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Results: 1 - 15 of 217
View Christine Normandin Profile
View Christine Normandin Profile
2021-05-27 18:00 [p.7528]
Madam Speaker, Quebec's legislation on medical assistance in dying requires that a doctor who does not practise MAID refer the case to a doctor who does.
The bill my colleague has introduced would make this requirement in Quebec illegal.
I do not need the details, but I would still like to know whether my colleague agrees that the bill not only interferes in Quebec's jurisdictions but also specifically tries to do indirectly what it cannot do directly.
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
2021-05-27 18:13 [p.7530]
Madam Speaker, Bill C-268 is part of a movement we have seen a number of times in recent years, especially in committee, to prevent individuals from accessing medical assistance in dying.
This is deplorable because the roots of the current system, which was brought in when Bill C-7 was passed in March, go back a long way. The idea was not to please certain lobby groups. The idea was to meet the needs of the general population and satisfy the courts' requirements.
Seven years ago, on June 5, 2014, under the leadership of MNA Véronique Hivon, Quebec passed Bill 52, the Act respecting end-of-life care. The bill contributed to a palliative care continuum.
Earlier, my Conservative colleague urged us to think twice because this is important, this is about terminating a human life. I would argue that this is not about ending a life. We are not talking about ending a life. We are talking about helping people who opt to end their own life do so with dignity and without pain. Those are two very different concepts. This is not about murder; this is about helping people exercise their rights as set out in our charters and laws. Quebec dealt with the issue on June 5, 2014, with Bill 52.
In February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada added in Carter that criminalizing a person who wishes to end their days is contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In April 2016, Parliament passed Bill C-14, which was the first iteration of Canada's medical assistance in dying legislation. That legislation had some flaws; it was not perfect, but it was a step in the right direction. It was consistent with the decision of the Quebec National Assembly and the values of all Quebeckers and Canadians.
Subsequently, in September 2019, the Quebec Superior Court issued a ruling in Truchon. Based on that ruling, a criterion in Bill C-14, specifically the provision requiring a reasonably foreseeable natural death, was inconsistent with our laws and charters, and we were told that it had to be removed.
Just recently, on March 17, Bill C-7 received royal assent. Finally, the criterion requiring a reasonably foreseeable natural death was removed. This is a concept that I myself had been struggling with since 2016. In my view, from the moment one is born, death is reasonably foreseeable. We just do not know when it will happen. It is a bit of an odd concept.
Bill C-7 put an end to the debate, so that is good. Since March 17, we can proceed not only in accordance with the wishes of certain lobbies, but also while respecting the wishes of the vast majority of the population and in compliance with the charters and the court decisions.
Secondly, introducing Bill C-268 into our debates is simply an attempt to upset the fragile balance we achieved with Bill C-7 at the federal level and with Bill 52 in Quebec. Bill C-268 upsets the balance between freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and the right of patients to dignity and comfort in their most difficult moments. This fragile balance was difficult to strike and I think we must avoid taking any action that might upset it. We do not have the right.
Bill C-268 is worded in such a way as to relieve health care professionals of any responsibility to a patient who says that they have an incurable disease that they are certain to die from unless they die of other causes first, that life is intolerable, that they want to end their suffering by dying and that they need help. Indeed, the bill says doctors are not obligated to help patients end their suffering by dying. Therefore, this is a way to release doctors from any responsibility related to their duty, and I find that absolutely deplorable.
Beyond all the human considerations I just raised and of which my colleagues spoke before me, there is also the jurisdictional issue, which is of grave concern to us. The federal government must refrain from interfering in areas of jurisdiction belonging to Quebec and the provinces, as Bill C-268 would do.
The way the physicians' code of ethics is managed and the way physicians process MAID requests are already set out in Bill 52 in Quebec and Bill C-7. I do not think we can tell a physician who is helping a patient end their suffering and assisting in their dying in accordance with Quebec law that he is committing a crime.
Criminalizing something that is under Quebec jurisdiction and already enshrined in Quebec law has no place. It cannot be allowed. We must ensure that the House of Commons respects the jurisdictions of the provinces and Quebec, especially when it comes to end-of-life care legislation.
What does the Quebec law say? The first part of section 30 states, and I quote:
A physician practising in a centre operated by an institution who refuses a request for medical aid in dying for a reason not based on section 28 must as soon as possible notify the director of professional services or any other person designated by the executive director of the institution and forward the request form given to the physician, if such is the case, to the director of professional services or designated person. The director of professional services or designated person must then take the necessary steps to find another physician willing to deal with the request in accordance with section 28.
If a doctor refuses to administer MAID, Quebec's Bill 52 provides specific directions to ensure respect for patients' rights and compliance with existing charters and the decisions of the Superior Court and the Supreme Court. In my opinion, Bill C-268 must not be allowed to interfere with Quebec's legislation.
I urge my colleagues in the House to think carefully about the need to respect jurisdictions and, most importantly, respect a patient's right to put an end to their suffering for which there is no other viable option.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.
It is agreed.
The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed will please say nay.
Hearing no dissenting voice, I declare the motion carried.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question on this very sensitive and important topic and the very important bill that is currently before the House. We have, with mental illness, a very sensitive and serious challenge. We have proposed a committee of experts to look at it and to give us guidance moving forward, and in recomposing the parliamentary committee to review what was Bill C-14, passed in 2016, we are sticking to our original plan to look at that question with all seriousness.
View Luc Thériault Profile
View Luc Thériault Profile
2021-03-11 16:48 [p.4928]
Madam Speaker, our Conservative colleagues do not seem to share our view that the role of the state in an issue as personal as someone's death is not to decide for Canadians what is best for them, but to preserve those conditions which allow them to exercise their freedom of choice and make a free and informed decision.
The Conservatives are very concerned about the protection of people with disabilities and about the state of palliative care. The government's motion provides that a committee will study precisely the points they are concerned about.
Can my colleague tell me why the Conservatives refuse to come to the table, responsibly and in good faith, to rationally discuss the points that matter most to them in a process that could result in a broad consensus?
View Luc Thériault Profile
View Luc Thériault Profile
2021-03-11 17:08 [p.4931]
Madam Speaker, I just want to let you know that the interpretation has not come through a few times now, so I do not hear you when you call on me. I am sorry.
My colleague wants us to keep studying this issue. I agree with him, but the motion before us would enable us to bring in the people he is talking about and engage in a multi-party thought process about the best solutions.
What does he have to say to Sandra Demontigny, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's and very much wants the right to make an advance request?
What does he have to say to Ms. Gladu, who had to take her fight to court and won in the end? Ms. Gladu said that Bill C-14, which the member voted against because it was too much for him, violated her right to life because it forced her to cut her life short.
What does he have to say to those people?
View Luc Thériault Profile
View Luc Thériault Profile
2021-03-11 17:23 [p.4933]
Madam Speaker, I hate to say it, but listening to the Conservatives, I am left with the impression that they are exploiting the realities of persons with disabilities.
Who is more vulnerable than someone living with an irreversible medical condition, who is suffering intolerably and has reached their tolerance threshold? Ms. Gladu lived her life, but she had a degenerative disease that affected her physical autonomy. She was experiencing intolerable suffering, but even in a wheelchair, she was able to go to court and assert her moral autonomy.
I do not understand why the member is unwilling to come and discuss her concerns in a parliamentary committee to try to pinpoint exactly what her concerns are.
View Luc Thériault Profile
View Luc Thériault Profile
2021-03-11 17:38 [p.4935]
Madam Speaker, at this current juncture, the Bloc Québécois is far from convinced that MAID should be broadened to include individuals whose sole medical condition causing suffering is mental illness.
Why? Because suicidal ideation is often a manifestation, a symptom of mental illness, and suicidal ideation is reversible.
I do not understand how my colleague can confuse these two things and how the Conservatives' amendment can allude to the fact that reversible suicidal ideation is suddenly an inclusion criterion, while the real criteria are the irreversibility of the disease and intolerable suffering. Why are they getting these things mixed up?
We may have to give it more thought, and that is what the government's motion is challenging us to do. It is challenging us to think about the issue across party lines.
Is my colleague prepared to sit down, invite the people he wants to invite, and correctly define the issue and find a solution?
If the expert panel and the special committee arrive at the conclusion that mental health should be excluded, it will be excluded. I do not see why they insist on remaining within the parliamentary framework of a debate which is getting us nowhere.
We need to think about this across party lines and reach a broader consensus. I am eager to hear what my colleague has to say in committee.
View Luc Thériault Profile
View Luc Thériault Profile
2021-03-11 17:53 [p.4938]
Madam Speaker, several times, I have been touched by the speeches and have been able to understand where my Conservative colleagues are coming from. I am in favour of any speech urging more social measures to help the most vulnerable and marginalized people.
When we consider the position of the Conservatives, who voted against Bill C-14 and Bill C-7, we get the impression that the only solution for dying with dignity is palliative care.
Unfortunately, palliative care and suicide prevention require investments in health and social services. How can the Conservatives get so worked up over the idea that these conditions could be trivialized, when they made cuts to health transfers, reducing the escalator from 6% to 3%? It takes money to offer social services, suicide prevention services and access to care. I cannot follow their logic.
For 50 years, holding up palliative care as the only solution has not resolved the end-of-life issue, as they know full well. Why do the Conservatives not sit down with us in 30 days? They could invite anyone they like, and we could have a cross-party discussion to find solutions.
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 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 Christine Normandin Profile
View Christine Normandin Profile
2021-03-11 19:55 [p.4955]
Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to my Conservatives colleagues speak all day.
It is clear to me that no matter what guidelines or safeguards are in place, they absolutely do not want to make medical assistance in dying available in cases of mental illness.
We have been talking about depression, so would my colleague acknowledge that there are some psychiatric illnesses that cannot be treated with drugs or other methods and that cause intolerable suffering?
View Gérard Deltell Profile
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2021-03-11 19:59 [p.4956]
Mr. Speaker, I support medical assistance in dying, and I know what I am talking about.
Thirteen years ago, when I was a member of the Quebec National Assembly, I was part of the group that spent six years studying medical assistance in dying. It took six years for Quebec to come up with a policy on MAID. I voted in favour of that policy.
Five years ago, I was part of the parliamentary team that brought together senators and members of the House of Commons to discuss the first version of MAID at the federal level. A few weeks ago, I voted in favour of Bill C-7 in the House, and I was not alone: 15 Conservative members voted in favour of Bill C-7, including men and women from Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta.
I am in favour of MAID, and I am in favour of Bill C-7, but that is not what we are debating this evening. We are debating the senators' amendments to Bill C-7. The amendment we are most concerned about relates to the Senate's decision to open the door to MAID for people with mental illness. Quebec studied this issue for six years and never looked at the mental illness element. Five years ago in the House of Commons, mental illness was not part of the conversation. Mental illness was not a factor in the first iteration of Bill C-7. Even the current Minister of Justice told the parliamentary committee that there was no consensus around this issue in Canada.
Now some senators have decided to bring MAID for mental illness into the conversation without the notion ever having been debated or studied in the House of Commons, and the government is supporting the Senate's stance.
I am very surprised and disappointed because, earlier, the Minister of Justice said, “Canada is ready to accept this practice”. That is surprising. What is he basing that on? This is the same person who said a few weeks ago that there was no social consensus on the subject in Canada. Now, he is even saying that there is a consensus across Canada.
Everyone has the right to change their mind, but there is a way of doing that, particularly when the person in question is the Minister of Justice. Why did the minister not have, shall I say, the courage to address this issue in the original version? Why did he go through the Senate to say that we must move forward?
It is not just people like me who are concerned about this. Take, for example, the Toronto Star, which is not a very conservative group. An article on this issue in that newspaper said:
The potential for abuse is both obvious and frightening.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
That was in the Toronto Star, but it gets better.
The Justice Department's own website still states the following regarding extending MAID to those whose only underlying condition is mental illness, which is precisely what the Senate amendment is all about:
...could be seen as undermining suicide prevention initiatives and normalizing death as a solution to many forms of suffering.
The Department of Justice still has that posted on its website. This is the department led by the same Minister of Justice who today said that Canadian society was ready for this practice and that there was a consensus in society.
This is all to say nothing of the many groups, such as first nations, that oppose this, much like a number of psychiatrists' and psychologists' associations, because, at this point in time, there is still no scientific proof that mental illness is irreversible, unlike the other issues associated with MAID and with which I agree.
I am even prepared to reopen the debate and allow for consent from people with incurable cognitive or neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, which can cause terrible suffering. That is my opinion. I am open to that, but we all know people who have struggled with emotional or mental illnesses all their lives. These people have their ups and downs, and sometimes those downs are very low and may involve suicidal thoughts. Are we prepared to give them the option of medical assistance in dying in these circumstances?
As the Department of Justice website says, this could normalize “death as a solution to many forms of suffering.” Those are not my words. That is a quote from the Department of Justice.
In closing, there were a lot of questions suggesting that the Conservatives did not want to debate this bill. That is completely false.
First of all, the reason we are struggling to meet this very tight deadline is entirely the government's fault. It was the government that decided to prorogue Parliament for six weeks this summer, forcing the House to go back to square one with the review of this bill, which was already under way. The prorogation caused the House to lose 25 sitting days. What is more, the government dragged its feet. If this bill was so important to the government, it could have introduced it the day after the Speech from the Throne in September. Instead, this government waited seven days before introducing it. It dragged its feet, it took no action, and it is the government's fault we are late. That is where we are with Bill C-7.
Let us now talk about the Senate amendments. The Senate voted on a Wednesday evening. The very next day, we were prepared to debate the amendments, but first they needed to be brought before the House. However, the first thing the government did was say that the Conservatives were calling for an extension. We did no such thing. It was the government that requested an extension.
Rather than taking a stand and immediately tabling the Senate's amendments in the House, the government asked the court to extend the deadline. That was its choice and its right. This government accuses us of dragging our feet, and yet it took five full days to respond when everyone knew which amendments would be adopted and which would be declined. That was its right and its responsibility.
Twelve hours after the government tabled its proposal for the Senate amendments, the debate began in the House and lasted a full day. However, the government never put the debate on the Senate amendments back on the agenda for the subsequent regular sittings of the House. It could have done so on the following Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, or on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday of this week, or even today. Instead, it decided to move a closure motion today. That is its right, I acknowledge that.
However, I take exception to people, and in particular the government, saying that the Conservatives do not want to have this debate. That is completely untrue. This is not a matter of politics or party allegiance. The Conservatives have some serious concerns about making medical assistance in dying available to people with mental illness. The NDP shares this point of view and is against the bill, so members need to stop saying that this is a right-wing opinion. Some people are in favour of the bill, while others are against it. That is all.
I was one of the 15 Conservative members who voted in favour of Bill C-7. I support medical assistance in dying, but not for people with mental illness.
In a few minutes, we will vote on the amendment proposed by the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, which would remove the amendment that deals with mental illness and allow us to proceed with Bill C-7 as is.
I am calling on all parliamentarians: if they have any doubt whatsoever about MAID for people with mental illness, I am asking them to vote in favour of our amendment. They could then go on to vote for the rest. If they have any doubt, our amendment removes that provision and accepts the rest of Bill C-7.
View David Lametti Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the Senate reviewed the bill, did its homework by proposing very thoughtful amendments to the bill, and we have responded.
Mental illness is a very serious illness. It is an illness. It needs to be treated as an illness. It was always going to be looked at in the second stage of the bill. We are going to continue to do that, but this time within the frame of the Senate amendment.
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