Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The Canadian government is expanding (MAiD) euthanasia before the 5-year review of the law.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


On February 24, Canada's federal government introduced Bill C-7, claiming it was in response to the Quebec Superior Court decision striking down the requirement in the euthanasia law that a person’s "natural death must be reasonably foreseeable" to die by MAiD. Due to the COVID-19 crisis and then the prorogation of parliament, Bill C-7 was re-introduced on October 5, 2020.

Sign the Petition: Reject euthanasia Bill C-7 (Link).

If Bill C-7 was limited to the court mandated changes, one would understand the need for this legislation, but Bill C-7 expands Canada's euthanasia law far beyond Justice Baudouin's, September 2019, court decision, a decision that should have been appealed by the government.

It is also concerning that Bill C-14, the bill that legalized euthanasia in Canada, legislated that a Review of the law be done. Bill C-14 stated:
Review by Committee
10 (1) At the start of the fifth year after the day on which this Act receives royal assent, the provisions enacted by this Act are to be referred to the committee of the Senate, of the House of Commons or of both Houses of Parliament that may be designated or established for the purpose of reviewing the provisions.

Report
(2) The committee to which the provisions are referred is to review them and the state of palliative care in Canada and submit a report to the House or Houses of Parliament of which it is a committee, including a statement setting out any changes to the provisions that the committee recommends.
Bill C-14 was passed on June 17, 2016, therefore the review the law was to begin on June 17, 2020. The fact that the government prorogued parliament on August 18 does not negate the fact that the legislated review has not begun and yet Bill C-7 significantly expands euthanasia in Canada without reviewing the current law.

It is inconceivable that parliament pass Bill C-7 without first fulfilling it's legislative requirement to first review the law.

Further to that, Justice Minister David Lametti seems to be changing the scope of the review. Minister Lametti stated in parliament on October 9 that:
We know that Canadians are also concerned about other issues that are not addressed in this bill. I am thinking, in particular, of access to medical assistance in dying on the basis of mental illness. I am also thinking about advance requests for medical assistance in dying for people who are not yet suffering but fear they will be after they have lost their ability to request this assistance and who want to making their wishes known before that happens. 

The upcoming parliamentary review of the medical assistance in dying regime and of the state of palliative care in Canada will provide an opportunity to give these complex issues the time and attention they deserve.
The purpose for the review is to examine the euthanasia law, not to simply review further expansions to the law, such as euthanasia for mental illness, euthanasia for children and advanced requests for euthanasia.

The fact that the government, through Bill C-7, is expanding Canada's euthanasia law beyond the parameters of the Quebec court decision without first reviewing the law, as legislated, is simply wrong. Bill C-7 must be defeated.

What changes does Bill C-7 make to the law?
1. Bill C-7 removes the requirement in the law that a person’s natural death must be reasonably foreseeable to qualify for death by lethal injection. Therefore, people who are not terminally ill can die by euthanasia. The Quebec court decision only required this amendment to the law, but Bill C-7 went further.

2. Bill C-7 permits a doctor or nurse practitioner to lethally inject a person who is incapable of consenting, if that person was previously approved for assisted death. This contravenes the Supreme Court of Canada Carter decision which stated that only competent people could die by euthanasia.

3. Bill C-7 waives the ten-day waiting period when a person is deemed to be “terminally ill.” A person could request death by euthanasia on a "bad day" and die the same day. Studies prove that the “will to live” fluctuates.
Sign the parliamentary petition: No Same Day Death (Link).
4. Bill C-7 creates a two track law. A person who is deemed to be terminally ill would have no waiting period while a person who is not terminally ill will have a 90 day waiting period before being killed by lethal injection.
If Bill C-7 is passed, a future court decision will strike down the 90 day waiting period for people whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable because, this provision represents an inequality in the law.
5. Bill C-7 falsely claims to prevent euthanasia for people with mental illness. The euthanasia law permits MAiD for people who are physically or psychologically suffering that is intolerable to the person and that cannot be relieved in a way that the person considers acceptable.” However, mental illness, which is not defined in the law, is considered a form of psychological suffering.
If the government wants to exclude euthanasia for mental illness, Bill C-7 would need to define psychological suffering in a manner that excludes euthanasia for mental illness.

Bill C-7 permits anyone who believes that their physical or psychological suffering is intolerable to qualify for death by lethal injection, even if effective medical treatments for their condition exists, only requiring a 90 day waiting period. (Link to Bill C-7).

Contact your Member of Parliament and say that you oppose Bill C-7.  The list of Members of Parliament: https://www.ourcommons.ca/Members/en/search

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