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432-00036 (Justice)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English


WE, THE UNDERSIGNED RESIDENTS OF CANADA, draw the attention of the House to the following:

THAT coercion, intimidation or other forms of pressure intended to force physicians and health institutions to become parties in assisted suicide or euthanasia is a violation of fundamental freedoms of conscience;

THAT during testimony at the Special Joint Committee for Physician Assisted Dying, witnesses stated that the protection of conscience should be included in the government's legislative response to Carter v Canada (AG);

THAT the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) confirmed that conscience protection for physicians would not affect access assisted suicide or euthanasia because 30% of physicians (24,000) would be willing to do it;

THAT s.2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the freedom of conscience and freedom of religion;

THEREFORE your petitioners call upon the Parliament of Canada to enshrine in the Criminal Code the protection of conscience for physicians and health care institutions from coercion or intimidation to provide or refer for assisted suicide or euthanasia.

Response by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

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

Medical assistance in dying (MAID) is a complex issue and many Canadians have deeply held views on the subject. On October 5, 2020, the Government re-introduced Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying). It proposes to amend the Criminal Code to respond 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 MAID regime. Bill C-7 is identical to former Bill C-7, which died on the Order Paper following the prorogation of Parliament in August 2020.

Conscience rights of health care providers and institutions are not matters that fall under the federal criminal law power. Nevertheless, the Government is committed to respecting the personal convictions of health care providers. Nothing in the existing federal law or in Bill C-7 would compel a health care provider to provide or assist in the provision of MAID. This is expressly stated under the existing subsection 241.2(9) of the Criminal Code.

The delivery of health care and the regulation of medical professionals fall within the jurisdiction of the provinces and territories. No province or territory currently compels practitioners to provide MAID. However, provinces and territories could adopt policies requiring “effective referrals” which, in the MAID context, means referring the person, in good faith, to a practitioner who does not object to MAID.

A provincial or territorial law or regulation that affects the conscience rights of providers can be challenged under the Charter, as was the effective referral policy of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario in 2018-2019, which applies to MAID. The Ontario Court of Appeal agreed that Ontario’s effective referral policy infringes on practitioners’ Charter-protected freedom of religion, but upheld the policy as a reasonable limit of religious freedom.

Presented to the House of Commons
Arnold Viersen (Peace River—Westlock)
September 29, 2020 (Petition No. 432-00036)
Government response tabled
November 16, 2020
Photo - Arnold Viersen
Peace River—Westlock
Conservative Caucus

Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.

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