TORONTO, March 4, 2020 /CNW/ - On February 24, 2020, the Attorney General of Canada David Lametti tabled Bill C-7 to make unprecedented amendments to Canada's existing euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide legislation (often referred to as medical assistance in dying, MAiD, in Canada).
What risks does unrestricted euthanasia and violation of physicians' freedom of conscience amidst an escalating healthcare crisis pose for Canadians? Concerned Ontario Doctors (COD) is beginning that crucial national and international conversation with world-renowned speakers in Toronto, Ontario on March 25, 2020. The inaugural COD International Medical Ethics Summit will explore the medical ethics surrounding Canada's rapidly changing medical and legal landscapes.
Canada's initial euthanasia legislation was passed in June 2016. The amendments proposed by Bill C-7 have been tabled even prior to the commencement of the 5-year parliamentary MAiD study. In 2016, Canada's government failed to first pass legislation for the right to palliative care and assistance to live with dignity, as exists in other jurisdictions with euthanasia. Canada is the only nation with legal euthanasia under a socialized single-payer healthcare system. Canadian governments have failed to plan for its rapidly growing and aging senior population: its healthcare system is in crisis. Hallway medicine has become the norm and more than 85% of Canadians do not have access to essential palliative care.
Bill C-7 proposes to create two tracks and would remove the existing key criterion for a "reasonably foreseeable natural death". The legislation follows a 2019 Quebec court's decision in Truchon and Gladu. However, advocates for people with disabilities have said the court decision was discriminatory and sent the message that "having a disability is a fate worse than death" (Council of Canadians with Disabilities). They urged the Trudeau government to appeal the Quebec court ruling, which it declined to do.
The Bill further proposes to remove many existing safeguards that serve to protect vulnerable Canadians, including decreasing the number of witnesses required for a MAiD request to one individual, the removal of the ten-day reflection period and the allowance of advanced consent. The Canadian government has also signalled its intention to allow for further expansion of euthanasia for children and mental illness, possibly as early as next year.