Government of Canada consults Canadians on medical assistance in dying
January 13, 2020 - Ottawa, Ontario - Department of Justice Canada
The Government of Canada recognizes that medical assistance in dying (MAID) is a complex and deeply personal issue.
On September 11, 2019, the Superior Court of Québec found (Truchon v. Attorney General of Canada) that it was unconstitutional to limit access to MAID to people nearing the end of life. The Court’s ruling will come into effect on March 11, 2020, unless an extension is granted by the Court.
While this ruling only applies in the province of Quebec, the Government of Canada has accepted the ruling and has committed to leading an immediate and inclusive process to work with provinces and territories to respond to the recent court ruling regarding the medical assistance in dying framework.
To that end, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, today announced the launch of public online consultations to give Canadians the opportunity to provide their views on this very important issue directly to the Government of Canada.
These consultations are an important step in responding to the Superior Court of Québec’s ruling, and are part of the Government’s progressive approach to ensuring that the federal framework reflects the evolving views and needs of the Canadian public.
Canadians and interested stakeholders are invited to share their views through an online public consultation, which will be open until January 27, 2020, on key issues such as eligibility, safeguards and advanced requests.
“Medical assistance in dying is a profoundly complex and personal issue for many Canadians across the country. It touches people and families facing some of the most difficult and painful times in their lives. Our Government has committed to updating Canada’s legislation on medical assistance in dying in response to the Superior Court of Québec’s decision in Truchon v. Attorney General of Canada. We have a responsibility to do this in a way that is compassionate, balanced, and reflects Canadians’ views on this important issue. The consultations we are launching today will allow us to hear directly from Canadians and guide the path forward.”
The Honourable David Lametti
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
“Canadians who are deciding whether they wish to receive medical assistance in dying are often experiencing prolonged suffering. Their situations are diverse, and extremely personal. Accessing medical assistance to die raises questions about how a person’s autonomy to make this choice is respected while their safety is protected. I look forward to hearing from people across the country about how to respond to the Court’s decision. I encourage Canadians to participate in the consultation process so the government can proceed with the safety and autonomy of Canadians at the centre of our work.”
The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health
“The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that the voices of all Canadians, in particular Canadians with disabilities, are heard on the issue of medical assistance in dying. In the spirit of “nothing without us” and the human rights-based approach taken in the Accessible Canada Act, we will work with the disability community to address concerns around vulnerability and choice, while protecting equality rights. Together we have made a lot of progress in the area of disability rights. We look forward to receiving thoughtful feedback, and will continue to work together to ensure that every person is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
The Honourable Carla Qualtrough
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion
Medical assistance in dying (MAID) became legal in Canada in June 2016.
The legislation currently sets out eligibility criteria for those who wish to apply for MAID, as well as safeguards physicians and nurse practitioners must follow.
The province of Quebec has its own medical assistance in dying legislation. On September 11, 2019, the Superior Court of Québec issued a decision in Truchon v. Attorney General of Canada in which it declared the “reasonable foreseeability of natural death” criterion in the federal Criminal Code, as well as the “end-of-life” criterion in Quebec’s provincial law on medical assistance in dying, to be unconstitutional.
- The criterion continues to be valid in Quebec until the judge’s decision comes into effect on March 11, 2020, unless the court provides an extension.
- This ruling only applies in the province of Quebec, which means that the “reasonable foreseeability of natural death” criterion will remain in effect in all other provinces and territories unless the federal law is changed.
In 2018, the Council of Canadian Academies completed three independent reviews in areas where MAID is not currently allowed: requests by mature minors, advance requests, and requests by individuals suffering exclusively from mental illness. These reports will further inform dialogue on this issue.
Canada’s current medical assistance in dying legislation requires a Parliamentary review of the law’s provisions, as well as the state of the palliative care in Canada, by one or more committees, starting at the beginning of the fifth year after becoming law. This would be in the summer of 2020. This review would allow for further public and parliamentary debate on all aspects of medical assistance in dying in Canada.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Department of Justice Canada
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health
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