There are few social issues that elicit more intense diverging opinions than Medical Assistance in Dying (“MAID”). It sparks heated debate because it’s an emotional and very complex issue with irreversible outcomes once a medically assisted death has taken place. It also has serious implications for the most vulnerable in our Canadian society, which is why it’s critical that we take our time to thoroughly study, examine, and reflect on the legislation before it’s passed. Unfortunately, the current Liberal government is rushing to pass changes to MAID (Bill C-7) without proper consultation or legislative review.
Bill C-7 was introduced by the Liberal government on October 05, 2020 following a September 11, 2019 Superior Court of Québec decision that it was unconstitutional to limit access to MAID to people nearing the end of life. The proposed legislation repeals the requirement that the patient’s death must be ‘reasonably foreseeable,’ but requires patients to still have a ‘grievous and irremediable medical condition.’ The Justice Committee is currently reviewing the bill. Conservatives have repeatedly proposed increasing the number of meetings dedicated to reviewing the bill, as well as hearing from witnesses to ensure the broadest range of perspectives are considered. Unfortunately, each time we’ve made this understandable request, the Liberals have refused.
The top priority for Conservatives is to ensure any MAID legislation includes safeguards for the most vulnerable in our society and for the conscience rights of physicians. We’ve introduced a number of reasonable amendments to reinstate protections the Trudeau government removed, including: reinstating the 10-day reflection period when death is reasonably foreseeable; maintaining the requirement for two independent witnesses when death is foreseeable; ensuring physicians have expertise in a patient’s condition; extending the reflection period when death is not reasonably foreseeable; protecting vulnerable patients by requiring that the patient be the one who first requests information on medical assistance in dying; and protecting conscience rights for healthcare professionals. Any legislation introduced in Parliament requires a thorough review, but this is especially true for bills that are literally matters of life or death.
Members of the Justice Committee have heard firsthand from disability advocates strongly opposed to C-7 and its rapid expansion of MAID. They say it amounts to a ‘deadly form of discrimination,’ making it easier for persons with disabilities to die, than to live. I recently spoke about these concerns in the House of Commons and those of Krista Carr from Inclusion Canada, an organization that works with people who have disabilities, who’s called the bill, “our worst nightmare.”
There’s a serious problem when medically assisted death is easier to access than disability support. It’s shameful that in the Liberal government’s rush to pass this bill before Christmas, they continue to disregard the legitimate concerns being raised by persons with disabilities. We owe it to Canadians to spend this time to consult and carefully consider the concerns and views of all Canadians on such a serious matter.
My Conservative colleagues and I will continue to work hard on behalf of all Canadians, including the most vulnerable in our society, to significantly improve the Liberal government’s MAID legislation. Canadians with disabilities and all Canadians deserve at least that much from their elected representatives to ensure adequate protections are in place.