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Results: 76 - 90 of 1285
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, the reality of the situation here is that we did ask for more time. We asked the Conservative Party last week. I stood in this place right here and asked on three occasions to sit until midnight to have a healthy debate on this very, very important issue, and the Conservatives routinely voted against that.
The Conservatives did not want to continue to debate this issue, so when they claim that we not interested in debating this and are playing tricks and games and all of that stuff, the reality is that it is the Conservatives who are. The leader of the opposition said in a National Post article just two weeks ago that the Conservatives were ready to work day and night to get the job done, to get legislation through.
Here we have a piece of legislation that we are mandated to complete by a certain date by a superior court and are up against deadlines, and we are asking the Conservatives to stay late and to work overtime to get it done, and they have refused to do it.
View Dane Lloyd Profile
View Dane Lloyd Profile
2021-03-11 19:13 [p.4949]
Madam Speaker, the Conservatives will always work hard to ensure that we pass legislation to help Canadians who are going through a year of pandemic and bankruptcies and who have the highest unemployment rate in the G7, but what we will not do is allow the Liberals to sneak a bill through the dead of the night on a—
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2021-03-11 19:13 [p.4949]
Madam Speaker, I am glad to be able to rise this evening to speak to these amendments from the Senate on the medical assistance in dying bill.
It is unfortunate that we have such a short amount of time to talk about these amendments, because this is quite literally a matter of life and death. I would think the government, on something as serious as this, would want to spend some time thinking about these changes, which are far outside the scope of the original bill.
Let me talk about the purpose of the Senate. The Senate was put in place at its inception as a mechanism to look at the legislation from the government of the day and decide whether it was good for Canada. If not, it was to provide fixes for it and send it back. Clearly, what has happened with Bill C-7 is far beyond that.
The unelected members of the Senate have come with items like MAID for people suffering only from mental illness, advance directives, and all kinds of things that were beyond the scope of what was presented. That is not its role, and the government, by accepting these things outside of its scope, is really putting ideas in the minds of the senators to encourage them to continue to do what is not their role.
Let us go through the amendments one at a time. The first one allows those with only mental illness to have access to MAID and says we will talk about it in a while: not in 18 months, but in 24 months. This is really unacceptable. After the first medical assistance in dying legislation was brought in, the Liberal government put together consultants and a panel from the Council of Canadian Academies. This was done by the honourable Jane Philpott and the hon. member for Vancouver Granville, to study whether people with mental illness only should have access to MAID.
That working group could not agree that this was a good thing to proceed with. It was quite concerned about whether people with mental illness really had the capability to give informed consent. It was concerned as well that we were going down the wrong path. Even the Netherlands, which has such a broad euthanasia range, only allows people with dementia to have medical assistance in dying, and there is still a ton of controversy with that. Even the Netherlands has not gone down this very dark path.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health issued a report to the government and said:
Canadians themselves are divided on the issue of MAiD, and most do not support making it available to those with only mental illness.
If the government is not going to listen to Canadians when they say this is not what they want, that is a concern.
These experts from CAMH also said:
The federal government should not make an amendment to MAiD legislation for people with mental illness as their sole underlying medical condition at this time due to a lack of evidence that mental illness is an irremediable medical condition in individual cases.
CAMH also expressed:
The concern is that many individuals with mental illness...[may have] impairments in [their] reasoning capacity that [would] make it difficult for them to connect their symptoms with their illness, fully understand the risks and benefits of treatment, and/or make...decisions based on personal goals and values.
With that, the Liberal government should be listening to Canadians who do not think this is a good idea, the mental health experts who do not think this is a good idea and the many people who are suffering from mental illness.
Not to be coarse, but the reality today is that people who only have mental illness as their condition can already commit suicide. In fact, sadly, thousands of Canadians are doing it, and thousands more are likely to do it as a result of the failure of the government to address the pandemic and restore the economy. People are losing their businesses and their livelihoods, and they have been under lockdown. This is a very serious condition.
A time when the government is talking about suicide prevention is no time to be saying, “Let us put extra help in here so people can have medical professionals assist them in their suicide efforts.” That is offensive at the very least.
The second amendment has to do with the review of the MAID regime. Absolutely, I see the government wants to have a review, but the fact is, there was a review in the first legislation, and the government did not do it. That was unacceptable and should have been addressed then. I do not think we need a new formula on how to do a review. I think we just need to do the review.
The third amendment is about collecting race-based data regarding MAID. I see in the discussion of this and it has been mentioned that we collect this kind of data on other things, such as palliative care. Well, palliative care, as members know because my private member's bill on palliative care was unanimously supported in the House, is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. In fact, the framework on palliative care to get consistent access for Canadians was begun because the data shows that where there is good quality palliative care, 95% of the people choose to live as well as they can for as long as they can.
However, sadly, this government has prioritized the killing of people through medical assistance in dying and de-emphasized palliative care. When we talk about people who, maybe due to their race and social standing, do not have good access to palliative care, we are talking about 60% of Canadians left without any access. That certainly should have been the priority for the government, instead of expanding the regime to help people end their lives.
I see that the clarification of neurocognitive disorder not being considered a mental illness was rejected as an amendment. The justice minister clarified in his testimony that the exclusion is not intended to capture neurocognitive disorders that are due to Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. Well, the justice minister has a habit of needing to clarifying things, because what is in the bills is never clear enough. We saw that in Bill C-6 where a clarification had to be put on the website about the definition. It was not in the bill, but it needed to be done because of the hurry with which these things are brought forward. I think that we need to take the time to get things right and not rush.
With respect to the advance request amendment, I would say that the same group that was put together to consult on this issue consulted on advance consent. The government already had this information, and it was not recommend that we go with advance consent. There were concerns about a few things.
First of all, who decides what is intolerable suffering when the person has lost capacity? When do we take action? How do we prove that it is informed consent? How do we make sure there is a third party responsible to enforce the decision if there is a disagreement after the person has lost capacity? These were the issues that had been brought forward, and they were ignored altogether in this discussion. I would add that Belgium and Luxembourg only allow advance consent when a person is permanently unconscious, and so that should be a consideration.
I would be remiss on the palliative care discussion if I did not do a plug for the Granfondo Cycle of Life fundraiser in my riding on April 9 at 7:30 p.m. Members can get details from my web page.
The other topic of discussion is about the work that needs to be done to actually make sure there are alternatives. We talked about the need for mental health supports and the need for palliative care. These are important considerations.
In short, I feel that the Senate overstepped its bounds with the amendments that it brought. I feel that the government should have appealed to the Supreme Court with the Quebec decision in the first place. Certainly, the government should not be expanding the scope of medical assistance in dying without doing its due diligence on the review that was originally desired, and spend more time listening to what Canadians want and what the people who are going to be impacted are feeling.
With that, it is clear that I will be voting against these amendments, as well as the medical assistance in dying legislation that has been brought forward.
View Christine Normandin Profile
View Christine Normandin Profile
2021-03-11 19:23 [p.4950]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Sarnia—Lambton for her speech.
My question has to do with the mental illness aspect, which she talked about.
She said that there are risks. However, in 24 months, we can expect the process and requests to be carefully regulated based on medical opinions, as is currently the case for other requests.
She also spoke about the fact that people who are suffering may commit suicide.
In that context, would it not be better to give people the option of dying with dignity, if necessary? We want them to be able to consult with a doctor to find the best solution for them, which could even prevent their suicide or use of medical assistance in dying.
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2021-03-11 19:24 [p.4951]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question.
In my view, there have to be alternatives to MAID. In the case of mental health, more help must be made available. This help is lacking in Canada, and people cannot afford these services. This is a priority. I think the government must make it a priority to actually help Canadians, not to help them die.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2021-03-11 19:25 [p.4951]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Sarnia—Lambton for her commentary, but I find it is much in the same vein as many of her party colleagues in terms of the level of hyperbole and the terminology that has been used. She has used terms about things being offensive. Many of the members who have spoken this evening are missing some of the fundamental points about this legislation.
Regardless of the discussion on mental illness, entry into the entire discussion of MAID requires informed and voluntary consent and that people be enduring an intolerable level of suffering. That is exactly what we are trying to address.
The second point about the inconsistency in approach is not borne out by the facts, because $11 billion was committed by our government in 2017 to address palliative care and mental health supports. She urged us to “spend more time”. Twenty-four months is the time that will be spent to ensure that when this clause sunsets, there will be a review by an expert panel and at least 12 months of deliberation by Parliament. Is that the type of time that the member opposite is seeking?
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2021-03-11 19:26 [p.4951]
Madam Speaker, I think I did quote quite a few facts and that most Canadians do not want to have medical assistance in dying for the mentally ill. I think I presented the fact that the government itself has consulted and received answers that say that this is not a good path to go down, including with regard to advance consent. This was not recommended after they had consulted.
In terms of the time that needs to be spent, there is no point in spending time consulting if we do not listen to the results of the facts that come out of that consultation. I would encourage the government to review the consultations that have already been done, and in terms of Senate amendments, we have had only a very brief amount of time to talk about these despite the fact they are the most radical of the suggested changes.
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2021-03-11 19:27 [p.4951]
Madam Speaker, I do not blame the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton for not knowing the historical reality that the Senate of Canada has done much more egregious things against the democratic will of the House of Commons. In November 2010, which I remember vividly, the Senate killed a climate accountability act that had been brought forward by Bruce Hyer, Bill C-311. Bruce went on to become a Green Party colleague of mine in the House, but what the Senate did was even worse than anything we can imagine, in that it killed the climate legislation without first referring it to committee as a result of procedural shenanigans ordered by the PMO.
To come back to the main point here of the legislation before us, Bill C-7, I agree with the hon. member that we we have not had adequate time to review the changes the Senate has proposed in relation to mental health provisions. I am deeply troubled by how quickly we are now moving ahead with something that just weeks ago I stood in the House to support, namely, the original bill. That bill specifically said that we were not dealing with mental health issues, and yet now here we are. To that extent, I agree with my colleague. I am very troubled by how quickly we have to move—
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2021-03-11 19:28 [p.4951]
Madam Speaker, the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands always has a valid point, so yes, the amount of time we have had is not adequate. I would agree that although the Senate does good work, at times senators are overstepping their bounds. Senators are not the elected House and we need to make sure that they understand that as well.
View Rosemarie Falk Profile
Madam Speaker, I want to note that I will be splitting my time this evening with the member for Oshawa.
It is interesting that we are speaking to Bill C-7 today under these circumstances. As legislators, we have a very weighty responsibility to do our due diligence in considering legislation. We have a duty to Canadians and the constituents who elected us to thoroughly analyze and review the legislation that is passed in the House. When we are considering issues of life and death, that responsibility is only heightened, and it is absolutely reprehensible that the Liberal government is limiting debate on this legislation and hastily accepting amendments from the other chamber without due diligence.
When the House last debated Bill C-7, mental illness as the sole underlying condition was explicitly excluded from the eligibility criteria for accessing medically assisted death. The explanation to allow for it is therefore obviously significant. It requires additional scrutiny. It was not part of the justice committee's study of the legislation, and members of the committee did not have the opportunity to hear from mental health advocates on this expansion. There has not been an adequate parliamentary review of this change.
In addition to that, and of greater concern, there is no consensus in the medical community that mental illness should be considered irremediable. There is no consensus that MAID should be expanded to include persons with mental illness.
The Liberal government is amending this legislation at the end of the parliamentary process to, as I can imagine, avoid scrutiny by ramming it through the House. To proceed with this significant expansion of MAID would be absolutely reckless. This legislation endangers vulnerable Canadians and, frankly, we owe them better. We owe the one in five Canadians who struggle with mental health and mental illness better.
There are a range of effective treatments available for mental illness. However, we know that access to these treatments is limited. That is where the focus of the government should be. It should be focused on providing additional mental health supports, not recklessly expanding MAID.
The need to improve access to mental health supports has been even more pressing during the pandemic. We know that the pandemic is negatively impacting the mental health of many Canadians. We have heard about the impact that pandemic restrictions have had on the well-being of seniors in particular. Depression and loneliness are spiking, and I am reminded of the heartbreaking stories of seniors who chose MAID. They did this to avoid continued isolation during the pandemic.
To only offer a person MAID when they are at their most vulnerable point is indefensible. For those who have a mental illness, the only attainable tool in their tool box cannot be medically assisted death.
There is a serious and reasonable concern that expanding MAID to include persons with mental illness will undermine suicide prevention initiatives and recovery-based care efforts. In fact, the justice minister's own department has expressed that concern. This reckless amendment paves the way for Canadians suffering from mental illness to prematurely end their life.
We also cannot ignore the fact that this legislation continues to pre-empt the required parliamentary review of the existing MAID framework. The Liberal government's entire agenda of broadening access to medical assistance in dying in advance of that review is, on its own, deeply concerning. We have heard from persons with disabilities and medical professionals who have clearly stated that the expansion of MAID in Bill C-7 is dangerous and requires greater scrutiny.
As the Liberal government continues down this path of broadening access to MAID without ensuring proper access to appropriate care, it is actually eroding the value we place on human life. It is robbing a person of the opportunity to live with dignity.
Medical assistance in dying should not be a solution to all forms of suffering, but as the government broadens access to MAID to persons whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable, we as a society are moving away from medical assistance in dying and ultimately toward medical-assisted suicide. The underlying message of moving in that direction is that death is a treatment for suffering.
It is my core belief that as a country, government, society and community, we have a responsibility and moral obligation to care for one another: to care for the elderly, the poor, the sick, those with disabilities and the vulnerable. We cannot sidestep our duty to care by offering death as a treatment for suffering. If the desired goal is to increase personal autonomy, we cannot accomplish that without meaningful choice. We certainly cannot do that at the expense of ensuring appropriate safeguards to protect vulnerable persons.
The united voice of disability advocates across the country who have come out in strong opposition to the bill should give all of us great pause. Shamefully, the Liberal government is not putting on the breaks. Rather, it is moving forward, full steam ahead, ignoring the serious concerns that this legislation is fast-tracking the deaths of persons with disabilities.
By removing the reasonably foreseeable death clause in the current MAID framework, this legislation opens MAID up to persons with disabilities who are not themselves when close to death. Simply put, this legislation is discriminatory and promotes ableist assumptions. Intended or not, it suggests that the lives of people with disabilities are not worth living. Instead of ensuring that a person with a disability has the accommodations and supports they need to thrive, it offers them medically assisted death as a solution.
This is particularly salient when we consider that concerns regarding a lack of appropriate safeguards for persons with disabilities in the existing MAID framework pre-existed this legislation. The former UN special rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities expressed concerns to the Liberal government on this very issue. She raised the issue that there were no protocols in place to ensure that a person with disabilities was offered viable alternatives to assisted death.
She recommended to the Liberal government that it investigate allegations that persons with disabilities were being pressured into seeking medical assistance in dying. She also recommended that safeguards be in place to ensure that persons with disabilities are not requesting MAID simply because there are no other appropriate alternatives available to them. These same concerns have been raised by disability advocates across the country. However, the justice minister and the Liberal government have not addressed them. Instead, they are removing and weakening the safeguards that were in place.
If we as a country offer MAID to the vulnerable while depriving them of adequate care and the resources to have a dignified, secure and healthy life, then we have failed them. We cannot pursue increasing personal autonomy at all costs. We cannot, in the name of autonomy, sacrifice safeguards for the vulnerable, undermine suicide prevention efforts, erode respect for human life and perpetuate negative stereotypes about age, abilities or illness. There has to be a balance.
Certainly, we cannot make decisions lightly without proper scrutiny and review, and that has not happened. The Liberal government has not allowed a parliamentary committee to hear from a single witness about expanding MAID to include those with mental illness. It is ignoring the pleas and serious concerns raised about this legislation. It has limited debate on it and continues to delay a mandated parliamentary review of the existing MAID framework.
I urge all members of the House to oppose the Liberal government's attempt to recklessly adopt significant amendments to this legislation in the final hours, and to oppose its efforts to steamroll these legislative changes through this place without proper scrutiny and care. Let us do our proper due diligence on this legislation. We owe that to all Canadians and the lives that hang in the balance.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2021-03-11 19:39 [p.4953]
Mr. Speaker, I point out that the issue of discrimination was squarely before the court in Truchon and the findings are exactly the opposite: that not making MAID available to those who are not at the end of life, including persons with disabilities, violated their competence, their autonomy and their dignity.
The second point is that scrutiny has been provided with respect to this bill. One hundred and thirty-nine MPs have spoken, and 45 hours of debate have occurred. On three separate occasions, given the opportunity to extend debate to discuss these very amendments, the Conservative Party turned it down.
Would the member opposite agree that it is entirely speculative to say that the only thing that will be offered to persons who are mentally ill is MAID, which I believe is what she effectively just stated, given the fact that even under the current regime of Bill C-7, prior to the Senate addressing it and working to amend it, there were already protocols in place, such that one must be informed of counselling, mental health supports, disability supports, community services and palliative care, and that those must have been discussed and appropriately considered?
View Rosemarie Falk Profile
Mr. Speaker, as somebody who worked on the front lines and experienced failed suicide attempts of children and adults coming into a hospital and who needed help, and as somebody who has seen first-hand another option being suggested as easier, or people being offered a suggestion of looking at something else, it is a very fine line with who that is being offered to. This is why we have such an important and weighty decision. We do not want to be the catalysts, at least I do not want to be a catalyst, in the premature death of somebody who may be considered vulnerable because they may be homeless or may have a disability.
View Christine Normandin Profile
View Christine Normandin Profile
2021-03-11 19:41 [p.4953]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her speech.
I find it somewhat presumptuous to say that there will be no safeguards for people with mental health problems, given that we will still have 24 months to provide better guidelines for dealing with this situation.
The member also spoke of the need for support. Would that not actually be an option to consider? Should we require a person to have tried certain forms of support or medications before they can seek MAID? It may be worthwhile to consider this solution and discuss it. What does the member think of that?
View Rosemarie Falk Profile
Mr. Speaker, I spoke about the balance of autonomy. We have to make sure that the cost of autonomy will not be people falling through the cracks. Just last fall, there was a senior from Ontario, who I referred to in my speech, who decided on MAID because she did not want to live through another lockdown. I hope that we can offer hope to people, and that medical practitioners are being first given the opportunity to offer hope as opposed to suggesting MAID, because it happens. People suggest something else might be easier. We saw it also with a Canadian in Ontario to whom it was again suggested that this was an option, and that is completely unacceptable.
View Richard Bragdon Profile
View Richard Bragdon Profile
2021-03-11 19:43 [p.4953]
Mr. Speaker, it is very important for all of us to step back and reflect or, I would say, take a pensive pause when it comes to major decisions such as this. When we have seen legitimate concerns from associations such as Inclusion Canada, the Canadian Mental Health Association and other groups that are looking at this and saying this is literally a life and death situation and life and death legislation, should we not take the pause?
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