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431-00226 (Justice)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

We, the undersigned citizens of Canada, draw the attention of the House of Commons to the following:

Whereas Bill C-7 further removes safeguards from the current euthanasia regime, including the mandatory 10-day reflection period and the number of required witnesses, thereby allowing a person's euthanasia request to be accepted and carried out within the same day and without robust consultation; and;

Whereas the removal of the second required independent witness reduces oversight of the procedure, thereby leaving vulnerable persons at risk of abuse; and;

Whereas the Canadian Government has an obligation to protect its citizens, especially those who are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation;

Therefore we, the undersigned, urge the House of Commons to immediately discontinue the removal of safeguards for people requesting euthanasia, and put in place additional measures to protect vulnerable persons.

Response by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable David Lametti

Bill C-7 responds to the September 2019 Superior Court of Quebec ruling in Truchon,which struck down the eligibility criterion of “reasonably foreseeable natural death” from the Criminal Code medical assistance in dying regime. The Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on February 24, 2020, and is at Second Reading in the House of Commons.

The Bill proposes to amend the Criminal Code to ensure consistency of the medical assistance in dying law across the country. The reasonably foreseeable natural death criterion would no longer apply as an eligibility criterion that could exclude persons from obtaining medical assistance in dying, and would instead be used to determine which of two different sets of safeguards apply to a particular medical assistance in dying request. 

The Bill’s first set of safeguards would continue to be tailored to persons whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable, where risks are reduced given the overall proximity of death and the fact that their suffering is most likely linked to the dying process itself. The removal of the requirement of a second independent witness and the repeal of the 10-day reflection period would respond to the concerns raised by healthcare professionals and other stakeholders to the effect that: finding two independent witnesses is a challenge for many patients and poses an access barrier to medical assistance in dying; and, the 10-day reflection period is unnecessary and prolongs patient suffering unduly, as persons who request medical assistance in dying often do so after careful consideration.

The Bill’s second set of safeguards reflect the more serious consequences of error for persons who request medical assistance in dying and whose deaths are not reasonably foreseeable. It recognizes the diverse sources of suffering and vulnerability that could potentially lead a person who is not dying to request medical assistance in dying. The new safeguards for this group include a minimum 90-day assessment period, a requirement that one of the two eligibility assessments must be conducted by an expert, and clarifications related to informed consent.

The amendments proposed in Bill C-7 were informed by consultations with Canadians, the provinces and territories, Indigenous groups, key stakeholders, experts, and practitioners. The Bill supports greater autonomy and freedom of choice for eligible persons, and provides appropriate safeguards to protect those who may be vulnerable.

Presented to the House of Commons
Arnold Viersen (Peace River—Westlock)
June 2, 2020 (Petition No. 431-00226)
Government response tabled
July 20, 2020
Photo - Arnold Viersen
Peace River—Westlock
Conservative Caucus
Alberta

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