A public consultation process is underway that could help shape the rules for medical assistance in Canada as the federal government moves to fall in line with a Quebec court decision that quashed a key restriction.Istock photo

Federal government asks Canadians for their views on medical assistance in dying

As the federal government launches a public consultation on laws governing assisted suicide, opponents are calling any move to expand the practice proof of the slippery slope they have long predicted.

Ottawa announced the consultation process on Jan. 13 as it amends the Criminal Code to permit greater access to assisted suicide. The amendments are in response to a Quebec court decision last September that struck down parts of the existing law as unconstitutional.

“What are we going to allow?” said Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

He said his organization is worried that minors and people with mental disabilities will eventually become eligible for a medically-induced death, as happened in other jurisdictions in the world which have legally-sanctioned suicide.

The public consultations, primarily conducted through an online survey, will last just 14 days, ending Jan. 27. The rush is a response to a Quebec ruling that stated that Ottawa’s criteria of death being reasonably foreseeable and Quebec’s “end-of-life” requirement for so-called Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) were too restrictive and therefore unconstitutional.

“The court’s ruling will come into effect on March 11, 2020, unless an extension is granted by the court. While this ruling only applies in the province of Quebec, the Government of Canada has accepted the ruling and has committed to changing the MAiD law for the whole country,” said a justice ministry statement.

While Canada rewrites the law that was passed in 2016, opponents of medical suicide continue to argue that more resources are needed for palliative and hospice care so that people  have the option of receiving compassionate care until their natural death.

Schadenberg points out that palliative and hospice care are being entangled in the assisted suicide debate when they are, in fact, entirely separate. He pointed out that the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) and the Canadian Association of Palliative Care Physicians (CAPCP) issued a joint statement stating categorically that medically assisted suicide is not an “extension of palliative care” but a violation of hospice and palliative medical goals of care.

When the federal government passed its assisted-suicide law in 2016, it promised a larger review of the regulations after five years, primarily focusing on what the government called three complex issues: requests for death from mature minors, advance requests from people who might lack the capacity to consent at a later time and requests concerning people with mental illness.

“Updating Canada’s MAiD law will expand eligibility for MAiD beyond people who are nearing the end of life, and could possibly result in other changes once the review is complete,” said the justice ministry.


5 thoughts on “Federal government asks Canadians for their views on medical assistance in dying

  1. Interesting discussion…my son is disabled..we love our son..now I as a mother must bear another burden…that is, if my son can choose to end his life because of this progressive disability…
    I can have no recourse and only my pain to bear….oh…I know according to the first comment I need to suck it up…his choice….affecting my entire family with grief placed on us by a society who couldn’t care less about my son…so this is how we treat our suffering sons daughters brothers sisters…suck it up their choice to end their life…oh I may add in the sterile cold way of a drug filled needle and syringe into an IV site to the body.. how cold is that….The world is very very cold hearted indeed….I see the face of my son and love him unconditionally…obviously the cold world of euthanasia does not….how sad is that…more grief for me as mother…..how sad…

  2. Medical assistance in dying is essential and needs to be exended to those who suffer from a progressive illness where as the disease progressive their ability to make decisions is deemed impaired. These individuals should be able to make a declaration indicating their wishes for Medical assistance in dying whilst the balance of their mind is NOT disturbed and this declaration should be binding regardless of their mental incapacity. This includes such diseases as various Motor neurone diseases, Huntingdon’s chorea and other progressive illnesses that may disrupt cognition and make them ineligible for medical assistance in dying.

  3. I am totally against medical assisted suicide and euthanasia or any other means of terminating human life. If the law changes it will become like an abortion that has no restriction on terminating unborn life.God alone is in charge of. Our life charge ..when we go against the. Law of God and nature we are in big trouble

  4. I absolutely do not agree that anyone should ask anyone else to end his/her life or to end it by himself/herself. I am totally against euthanasia and medically assisted suicide. Suffering is part of everyone’s life during life and not just before death. We need to accept whatever life presents and do the best as God is always in charge whether we believe in God or not.

  5. I am totally against medical assisted suicide and euthanasia. Changing the existing laws, in my view, will only accelerate this complex issue on the slippery slope it is on.

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