Supreme Court ruling requires legislation for medical assistance in dying

As appearing in the Oakville Beaver on April 22nd.

Oakville MP invites public input on Bill C-14

End-of-life medical care is a complex and sensitive topic. Currently, Canadians can proactively declare their future health care preferences through “living wills.” Canadians have the right also to refuse medical treatment, such as ventilator use or chemotherapy, and to receive sedative medication to alleviate their suffering at the end of life. In addition to these current options, the Supreme Court of Canada recently ruled that the law must permit some form of medical assistance in dying.

In its February 6, 2015 decision in Carter v. Canada, the Supreme Court ruled that two sections of the Criminal Code were unconstitutional because they prohibited physicians from performing assisted suicides. While the Criminal Code intended to protect vulnerable persons from being induced to commit suicide, it also restricted competent adults from making end-of-life decisions when suffering from grievous medical conditions. The Supreme Court ruled that Parliament must amend the criminal law to allow for medical assistance in dying by June 6, 2016.

To fulfill Parliament’s responsibility in light of Carter v. Canada, the Justice Minister tabled Bill C-14 on April 14, 2016. This bill reflects the government’s commitment to craft legislation that respects both the rights of Canadians and the jurisdiction of the provinces and territories. Now that this legislation has been introduced in the House of Commons, parliamentarians can begin the next phase of consultation.

I urge my constituents to contact me by email (at [email protected]) to share their thoughts on this legislation (which can be accessed on by entering the search term “C-14”). Given the time-sensitive nature of this issue, I hope to receive public input within the next couple of weeks. It is very important to me that I hear your views on the restrictions and stipulations that should be applied to medical assistance in dying.

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