Friday, February 17, 2023

Canada's Senate only has one week in parliament to pass Bill C-39 and delay euthanasia for mental illness.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Toronto Sun reporter Catherine Lévesque stated that on February 15, the House of Commons unanimously passed Bill C-39, the bill that would delay the implementation of euthanasia for mental illness until March 17, 2024. But Canada's Senate only has one week to also pass C-39.

Lévesque explained:
Time is of the essence, as both houses will not be sitting for the next two weeks and will come back on the week of March 6 before another break week. That means the Senate will only have one sitting week to study and vote on C-39 before the deadline of March 17 2023.
Lévesque reported that Justice Minister David Lametti is confident that the Senate will vote on the bill quickly but it was the Senate that originally amended Bill C-7 to include euthanasia for mental illness.

Lévesque reported that Marc Gold, the government's representative in the Senate stated:
“We are confident that the Senate will complete a final vote on Bill C-39 before March 17.”
Lévesque reported that during the parliamentary debate on Bill C-39:
Lametti said the main objective of C-39 is to give more time to nurses and practitioners to get more training on the issue and to give the government more time to consider a new report from the parliamentary committee looking at extending eligibility of assisted dying.

NDP MP Alistair MacGregor told Lametti at a committee meeting this week that elected officials studying the issue “always felt under the gun” because of the sunset clause expiring and welcomed the one-year extension provided by the new bill.

Conservatives, on the other hand, are clear that they oppose the extension of MAID to people suffering from mental disorders and have another year to try to make this clause disappear.

Speaking in the Commons on Wednesday evening, things got emotional as Liberal MP John McKay spoke about the hurdles of navigating through the health system for 25 years ever since his stepson was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition welcomed Bill C-39 but it is not a victory since it only delays and stops the implementation of euthanasia for mental illness. For the sake of John McKay's stepson, euthanasia for mental illness should not even be considered.

I do not trust this government. I still fear that Bill C-39 may be held up in the Senate and not meet the March 17 deadline.

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