Status of Quebec euthanasia law remains in flux

TORONTO, Dec. 10, 2015 /CNW/ - On December 9, 2015 the Québec Court of Appeal granted permission for Québec to appeal a declaration rendered by the Québec Superior Court on December 1, 2015, which rendered inoperable the euthanasia provisions set out in the Québec euthanasia law, finding that they were in conflict with existing Criminal Code prohibitions against homicide. The Court of Appeal made clear that it was not making any decision on the merits of the case, but did note that the issues raised by the case are of significant public importance and should be addressed swiftly. A hearing has been scheduled for December 18, 2015 to address the appeal, putting in flux the status of the Québec law, which was to come into effect on December 10, 2015.

As such, a doctor in Québec can still be prosecuted if they participate in an act of euthanasia.

In February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada in Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), found that existing laws against homicide and assisted suicide to be unconstitutional, but kept those laws in effect and gave Parliament one year to enact a new law that provides for a regime of effective oversight and safeguards.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) was an intervenor at all levels of court in the Carter case and is also an intervenor before the Québec Court of Appeal in D'Amico c. Procureure générale du Québec.

EPC's position in the D'Amico litigation is that Québec's euthanasia law goes beyond the jurisdiction of the Province of Québec and falls under the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada. The intentional killing of patients by doctors is not medical treatment or health care, and the lack of before the death oversight represents a fatal flaw in the proposed Québec law that puts the safety of the public at risk, contrary to s.7 of the Charter.

A national approach to the regulation of assisted suicide is the only way to avoid an inconsistent patchwork quilt of regulation of assisted suicide laws across Canada, which could leave Canadians at risk, states EPC Counsel, Toronto Constitutional Lawyer, Hugh Scher

EPC Executive Director, Alex Schadenberg states:
The Federal Government could take a very different approach to regulation than the much riskier regime of euthanasia that has been endorsed in Québec, which is similar to the Belgian regime, where deaths without request have occurred, and where a lack of compliance with the enacted safeguards is evident.

EPC Vice President, Amy Hasbrouck notes that:
The Supreme Court's conclusion that assisted suicide could be legalized safely is predicated on the notion of strong federal regulation. The lack of a comprehensive national response to these issues risks sowing incoherence, an approach that would put all Canadians at risk.

The Federal Government has indicated its intention to hold all-party Parliamentary Committee hearings to study and respond legislatively to the Supreme Court's ruling in Carter.

SOURCE Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

For further information: Hugh Scher (Toronto), EPC Legal Counsel (416) 816-6115 or hugh@sdlaw.ca; Alex Schadenberg (London), EPC Executive Director (519) 851-1434 or info@epcc.ca; Amy Hasbrouck (Montreal), EPC Vice President (450) 921-3057 or tigrlily61@gmail.com

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Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

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