On Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, the Government of Canada, through the Department of Justice, launched a two-week general public consultation on the expansion of eligibility criteria for euthanasia/assisted suicide (which the Government refers to as "Medical Assistance in Dying"/MAiD).
This consultation follows the September 2019 Superior Court of Québec ruling which found it unconstitutional to limit access to MAiD only to individuals nearing the end of life and which gave the federal government the option to appeal the decision or amend legislation within six months. The Government of Canada chose not to appeal the Québec court ruling, but instead has indicated it would be prepared to change the law for the entire country.
The consultation targets one specific component of the legislation ("Eligibility Criteria") and is intended to help the Government form its response to the Québec ruling. The survey does not ask whether or not euthanasia/assisted-suicide should be expanded to include persons with disabilities, that instead is assumed. It concentrates on whether a person should be allowed to request euthanasia/assisted suicide by means of his or her own advance directives or whether the Government's current "safeguards" are sufficient to prevent abuse of or pressure on patients whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable, such as individuals with mental health conditions or physical disabilities.
What Can I Do?
The consultation invites the public to share their views with the Government on the legislative changes under consideration regarding the expansion of eligibility criteria for euthanasia/assisted suicide. The consultation – available online or in PDF format – closes on Monday, 27 January 2020, at 11:59 p.m. (PST).
The Catholic faithful may wish to note that while the survey already assumes that access to euthanasia/assisted suicide will be expanded, it still offers the opportunity in three sections to provide comments. In these sections, those who wish may voice opposition to euthanasia/assisted suicide, indicating any concerns they may have about:
- dissatisfaction with the assumption built into the survey that euthanasia/assisted suicide will be expanded;
- giving medical personnel the right to presume consent for vulnerable populations (including minors, the depressed, the mentally ill, and the cognitively impaired);
- the inadequacy of the "safeguards" and the need to promote stronger ones; and
- the urgent need for viable alternatives to MAiD through more adequate government funding for palliative care, home care, and hospices.
For additional information on the opposition of Canada's Bishops prior to the passing of Bill C-14 (Medical Assistance in Dying) into law, please refer to the resources in Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. For more information about palliative care, please refer to the CCCB's submission to Health Canada for the consultation on a palliative care strategy for Canada.