The federal government has paused efforts to expand medical assistance in dying.

Ottawa was planning to expand the criteria to include people whose sole reason for seeking assistance in dying is a mental illness.

Foothills MP John Barlow says there needs to be more guardrails to make sure it's only people in extreme circumstances can access it.

"When they made legislation for assistance in dying a few years ago, I voted against it and one of the reasons I voted against it is it was clear the alleged safeguards around the legislation were not nearly as stringent as I would have thought," he says "Even in the wording of the legislation it left the door open to expand access to MAID. 

"Initially, it was only to be accessible for those Canadians who had foreseeable and imminent death and I think that's what most Canadians would think this is, but now the Liberals are wanting to expand this to people with disabilities, people who are suffering with mental health issues, open it even to minors, but even more troublesome is we've now seen, especially through COVID, a number of Canadians, we don't know the exact number but certainly dozens, who have circumnavigated those safeguards that were there, and no we're seeing people going to the food banks being offered medical assistance in dying, veterans are being offered medical assistance in dying by their caseworkers."

Barlow says the Conservatives believe offering death should not be an easy or first solution.

He says they want to make sure people in crisis can access the help they need.

"We are the outlier globally when it comes to how accessible the Liberals want to make this legislation and I find it extremely troublesome and now a very positive look at our society and a government that is going this way so rapidly. On the positive side, the pressure that we put on along with working with stakeholders like Inclusion Foothills in my riding for example, we've convinced the Liberals to push the brakes on this and take more of a sober second look at how they want to do this."

The expansion was to take effect automatically in March, but justice minister David Lametti wants it delayed for more consultation.