Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Justice Minister David Lametti have asked for an court-extension on Bill C-7 until March 26.Grandin Media file photo

Federal government seeks extension for amendments to Bill C-7 on assisted-dying

The federal government was expected to seek another extension to pass its assisted-dying bill as it deals with stiff opposition from the Conservatives over amendments to Bill C-7 brought forth by the Senate.

The government had a court-imposed deadline of Feb. 26 to have the new legislation in place, but the Opposition Conservatives have signalled they may drag out debate of the Senate amendments.

One such amendment would open the door to mentally-ill Canadians being able to seek a legally-sanctioned suicide within 18 months. The government has agreed to allow this, but not for two years from now.

“It has been a year since the Liberal Justice Minister tabled Bill C-7, the government’s medical assistance in dying (MAiD) legislation. Now, at the last minute, the Liberals are accepting an amendment that would start a reckless countdown to expand MAiD to those with mental illness,” Rob Moore, the Conservative Justice critic, said in a statement.

“Instead of recklessly expanding MAiD to those with mental illness with parliamentary review, the Liberals should focus on providing additional mental support.”

In a Feb. 19 statement, Justice Minister David Lametti and Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the government has filed a motion with Quebec Superior Court to allow it until March 26 to bring Canadian law in line with that court’s September 2019 Truchon ruling.

The 2019 Quebec court ruling said that the need for a person’s death to be reasonably foreseeable before they could access an assisted death was too restrictive and unconstitutional.

“We have been working very hard over the last year on responding to this important court ruling and remain committed to do so as quickly as possible,” the statement said.

The government rejected another Senate amendment that would have allowed advance requests for an assisted death from people who feared being diagnosed with dementia or other competence-eroding conditions.

The fact the Senate wants the MAiD system to be available to the mentally-ill has stunned some opponents, who had hoped the Senate would block any changes to Bill C-7.

“As bad as Bill C-7 was, the Senate expanded the bill to include people with mental illness,” said Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Moore noted that the Conservatives introduced a motion to remove expansion of MAiD to those with mental illness “so that a proper review can happen — one that should have happened last year. Canadians should know the impacts of expanding MAiD even further before it becomes law.”

The minority Liberal government has had the support of the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois for the changes it originally proposed.

The government was still hoping the House and Senate will pass Bill C-7 by Feb. 26.

Video: Archbishop in Dialogue: Mission and MAiD



2 thoughts on “Federal government seeks extension for amendments to Bill C-7 on assisted-dying

  1. I think it should be absolutely alarming to Canadians that our Government would entertain even a conversation regarding MAID for the mentally ill. On the one hand we have programs relating to Suicide Prevention, while on the other hand Bills, like Bill C-7, that seeks to extend the means for more Canadians to end their lives. What have we come to as a nation? I also feel like this agenda is being pushed through at a time when Canadians are distraught and distracted with a pandemic. I also want to say, Canadians, who agree that this is a terrible blight upon our nation, it’s time to speak up. This Bill suggests that some people’s lives are not worthwhile, in particular, the lives of the mentally ill.

    1. Dear Patsy, we are the greatest and most evolving nation in the world I would never put that into question secondly all lives are worthwhile and equal where are you seam to degrade the mentally ill as being inferior by sub classifying the mentally ill as the mentally ill . You declare that we are rushing and pushing these ideas through a pandemic these are not true statements they have been on the table for a long time . If you are a human being with dignity you do not have the right to make judgement on a person regardless of make up who may be in severe pain . Just to inform you pain within the human mind/brain is not understood medically at this given time in medical science. In general 99% plus some love life and want to live if somebody wants to end their life and they have the constitutional right to end their life they should be able to have a choice to end there pain . I guess what I’m saying is majority of people will always choose life over death . Since we as human beings and doctors do not understand the complexities of pain it would be very ignorant for a person to make judgement on a person with pain . To conclude it is our human ignorance that is clouding a persons constitutional right to end their life if it’s in severe pain . Please try to expand your mind and look deeper into the issue and be unbiassed in your decision making no religion involved just human rights .

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