Ottawa, Ontario January 16, 2020
Questionnaire on Medical Assistance in Dying (Euthanasia)
On January 13, 2020, the Government of Canada opened a public review of the law on medical assistance in dying (MAID) or physician assisted suicide in order to expand it, following the Quebec Superior Court decision in September 2019 to strike down the clause that a patient’s death had to be “reasonably foreseeable” in order to qualify for the procedure. See the REALity article in the December 2019 issue for background information as well as further background information below: https://realwomenofcanada.ca/canadians-at-risk-by-changes-to-the-assisted-suicide-law/
You can access the Questionnaire at: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cons/ad-am/index.html Deadline for submission is January 27, 2020.
Please note that the questions assume that the respondent is in favor of MAID and wants it to be expanded and that safeguards that you may recommend are to function within an expanded MAID legislation.
Technically, there are three opportunities for comment. This is an opportunity to express views, among others, about the lack of adequate palliative care, decreased trust in medical institutions due to MAID, lack of conscience rights for medical professionals and taxpayers who fund this system, the many risks to the vulnerable by expanding eligibility. If you are uncomfortable filling out the multiple-choice section, it can be left blank and you can submit the questionnaire with only the comment section completed.
Only one response is accepted per electronic device (computer, tablet, phone). You may respond, however, by email using a pdf file or by regular mail. This can be done anonymously.
It may be helpful to you to consult the guide for answering this questionnaire prepared by Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (see link here). The questionnaire must be completed by January 27, 2020. The Liberal government has to know that regardless of Trudeau and Justice Minister Lametti’s personal views, Canadians do not want any expansion of the current law, which has already led to the death of more than 6, 700 vulnerable Canadian since 2016. If the expansion is pushed ahead as planned, thousands more Canadians, such as the elderly, the disabled, the terminally ill, the depressed, and sick children will have their lives devalued by being convinced to undertake an early death, instead of receiving genuine medical assistance, counselling and palliative care.
Please feel free to forward this Alert to friends and family.
Background Information on this Questionnaire
Prime Minister Trudeau was not obliged to follow this decision of the Quebec lower court last September, since it was binding only in Quebec. However, he has taken advantage of the court decision to expand the physician assisted suicide law (MAID) to make it more expansive, in accordance with his own “progressive” personal views. According to Minister of Justice David Lametti, the federal government is prepared to amend the law, even though many of the issues involved in it have not yet been resolved.
The proposed amendments include allowing “mature minors” between 14 to 17 years of age to seek medical aid in dying. Parents will have no authority to stop this, since the decision as to their child’s capacity to understand the nature and the consequences of the procedure will be determined by the physician who will be carrying out the fatal procedure. Other amendments include allowing death for those persons with mental illness (such as those with depression or schizophrenia, etc.) and persons such as those with dementia to make advance directives for an assisted death before losing their capacity to consent.
Trudeau’s Failure to Appeal Quebec Decision
Trudeau could have appealed the decision of the Quebec Court last September, but he did not do so, on the advice of his Justice Minister Lametti, who believes the law was far too restrictive. (He refused to vote for the law when it was before Parliament in June 2016.) The Quebec judge had given the government until March 11, 2020 to amend the law. It is an impossible feat, especially since Parliament, due to the federal election, has been sitting only briefly. Trudeau, of course, could ask the Court for an extension of time, but has not done so. Further, last spring, the Liberal government had announced that there would not be any changes to the assisted suicide law until a review of the law had been completed, set to begin in June 2020. What is the purpose of a five-year review if the government is expanding the law before the review has taken place?
Liberal Government Consultative Questionnaire
On January 13, 2020, Ottawa launched the online consultation that closes January 27, 2020, in which it solicits the public’s views about amendments to the law and what safeguards should be implemented.
Liberal Justice Minister David Lametti believes that “Canadian society has evolved quite rapidly since the legislation was passed” [in 2016], and “people are generally comfortable now with the concept” and he wants to “move on with those other larger issues.” A spokesman for the minister stated, “ What we’re doing with this consultation is trying to assess from Canadians their views on the medical-assistance-in-[dying] regime and some of the finer points, to try to see if there is shared consensus on other issues…for example, like advanced requests [for MAID]“. Also, the government wants to know “if Canadian society’s view evolved enough for [for the government] to understand whether it would be appropriate to move forward with something like that, within this first legislative step.”
The Trudeau government should be sent a resounding “No!” to any amendments expanding the law since there is absolutely no consensus on it.