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View Randall Garrison Profile
Madam Speaker, I respect that the member has introduced this bill out of a clarity of conscience of her own. It always distresses me when we distort the law on medical assistance in dying by calling it assisted suicide, since people must have a terminal condition before they can even be considered eligible. When the member refers to people being required to refer, what she is referring to are the professional standards set by the College of Physicians and Surgeons in most provinces.
Is she saying that we should take away the ability of doctors and nurses to regulate their own professions and substitute her judgment in her bill for that of professional associations?
View Randall Garrison Profile
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-268.
This bill picks up a tiny portion of the extensive and important debates on medical assistance in dying that took place on Bill C-14 in the previous Parliament in 2016 and again on Bill C-7 in this Parliament. I want to start today by restating the principle that has guided the New Democrats through these debates.
We believe that medical assistance in dying is an important tool for helping to end unnecessary suffering for patients facing end of life issues and for avoiding the unnecessary suffering of their families, who have to accompany them on this journey. This is the reason the New Democrats will always defend the right of access to information about MAID and access to the service for all those who qualify for assistance and choose to proceed.
In the debate on Bill C-7, many issues arose concerning the challenges Canadians face at the end of life, some of which Bill C-7 addressed and some of which have not yet been addressed. Two important concerns were front and centre, and these, for me, were very important. The first was to help alleviate unnecessary suffering by eliminating the waiting period, which was a cause of great concern for patients who feared loss of capacity before they could complete the waiting period, as this would make them ineligible for medical assistance in dying. The second was allowing a waiver of final consent, which deals with the same issue. It was often known as “Audrey's amendment”. This is a provision that I knew quite personally, as a friend of mine chose to go earlier than she would have liked because of a brain tumour and her fear that she would lose capacity to consent at the last moment. Bill C-7 would make some important improvements on eliminating suffering at the end of life.
A second challenge was debated: How do we preserve as much autonomy as possible for Canadians who are dying? Most of the issues related to this still have to be dealt with at the special joint committee on medical assistance in dying that will begin its work next Monday. This includes questions of advance directives and whether protections for people with disabilities from being pressured to seek MAID are adequate. I was disappointed that Conservative senators spent a lot of time holding up the establishment of this new joint committee. It was very frustrating because the five-year statutory review of Bill C-14 was supposed to have started over a year ago. However, it is good news that this committee will commence its first regular meeting next Monday and will deal with the outstanding issues that were not dealt with in Bill C-7.
A third challenge that came up in the debate on Bill C-7 was access to services at the end of life. We learned there are a great many gaps in services in our Canadian health system for those who are facing death. There are gaps in diagnostic and treatment services, depending on where one lives, whether it is in a major city with excellent facilities or in a rural and remote area. We learned of important gaps in palliative care. Again, depending on where one lives, access to palliative care is highly variable. Of course, we also learned of gaps in the ability to access information about medical assistance in dying and the ability to access the service.
There are some very important questions here about the absence of services in rural and remote areas, about the inadequacy of services and about the shortage of trained professionals. Very important to me was the testimony we often heard about the complete absence of culturally appropriate services for indigenous Canadians and for new Canadians from different cultural backgrounds.
However, instead of addressing these challenges, the challenges of autonomy and the challenges of access to services, Bill C-268 is about something else. What this bill would do is override a patient's right to access information about, and to have access to, legally provided medical services, based on the personal beliefs of a service provider.
Let us put that in plain language. Let us suppose there are a variety of treatments available to a patient. It does not really matter in this case what they are. If a medical professional believes that one of them should not be available, this bill says there is no obligation to make sure patients find out all the options available to them. Professional organizations like colleges of physicians and surgeons and colleges of nurses have found this to be unethical behaviour, so they have required doctors, to varying degrees, to refer patients to someone who is supportive of those services and is accessible to them.
This requirement to refer, as mentioned in a previous speech, has been upheld by the courts. That is the main reason I cannot support this bill. It would result, on a practical basis, in the denial of access to necessary health services for many Canadians.
Many communities have a very limited number of doctors, and if one of those doctors, or even more than one of those doctors, is unwilling to let their patients find out about medical assistance in dying, then we are condemning those Canadians to suffer at their end of life in ways that other Canadians would not have to suffer. No health care professionals are, in fact, required by the law to participate. It is the professional associations who require some form of referral. Whether a referral is actually participation, I will grant to author of this bill, is debatable. I do not really believe it is.
An equally important reason for opposing this bill is the dangerous precedents that this bill would set. Its role as a potentially precedent-setting bill has already been noted by anti-choice advocates who have been vocal in their support of this bill. They recognize it would provide a precedent for denying referrals for access to contraception and abortion services. I want to point out that denials of service and denials of information are very real in our existing Canadian medical care system.
Just this year, Providence Health Care, which runs St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver and is building a new hospital with $1.3 billion of public money, announced that in this new facility, abortion and contraceptive services will not be provided, nor will medical assistance in dying. I find this particularly problematic. I know of several cases in Vancouver where those who wished to access medical assistance in dying were forced to leave the hospital where they were being cared for and transfer to another facility, at a time when they and their families were already in a great deal of distress.
This bill would also be a very bad precedent for the current attempts to deny trans minors the counselling and medical services they need to affirm who they are. Without access to the services that others may think are appropriate, this will leave families with trans minors struggling to find the information and support their kids need. If this kind of precedent is allowed, medical professionals would not have to provide a referral to someone who would be providing a medically necessary service.
As a gay man who lived through the AIDS epidemic, I am also concerned about any precedent that allows the denial of access to medically necessary services. The AIDS crisis was generally ignored by the public, and treatment for those suffering from HIV and AIDS was regularly denied to members of my community, who quite often suffered very painful and tragic deaths as a result of that.
As I approach the end of my comments today, I cannot end without mentioning yet another unfortunate precedent set in this bill, and that is its use of inflammatory language. I have no doubt, as I said in my question to the sponsor of this bill, of her personal convictions and their strength.
However, as sincere they may be, the language used in this bill conjures up a spectre of the use of violence to intimidate medical professionals, something of which there is no evidence of happening in Canada. Using the kind of language that involves violence is certainly not conducive to an informed debate on the real principles that are in question here.
I will close my comments today by restating that on principle, New Democrats are opposed to any legislation that would limit access for Canadians to medically necessary services based on the personal beliefs of others, no matter how strong the beliefs the others hold are. There is a right in this country to access legal medical services, and that right can only be effective when, as professional organizations have recognized, doctors who do not wish to participate make referrals to doctors who will provide those services.
There is no doubt that the end of life is a difficult moment for all families and medical assistance in dying, I still believe, is an important way of ending unnecessary suffering, both for patients and families at the end of life. I would not like to see anyone denied access to the information they need to make a choice that protects their own autonomy about how their lives end.
View Randall Garrison Profile
Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his sincere comments. He and I rarely agree on many things in Parliament, but I never question his sincerity and his great attempts to represent his constituents. It is strange that the Liberals have driven us to a point where the member and I now agree.
I agree with the hon. member that, in accepting the Senate amendment, the Liberals have short-circuited the review that they were supposed to be doing of MAID legislation. In fact, they have gone farther and I wonder if the member would agree with me. By creating a special panel to set up supposed safeguards for those with mental illness, the government is prejudging the outcome of that study and suggesting that we are going to approve those with mental illness as their sole underlying condition for medical assistance in dying.
Does the member agree that the Liberals are actually prejudging this program in the way that they have stated their motion?
View Randall Garrison Profile
Madam Speaker, I want to thank the Minister of Justice for his work on Bill C-7. I also thank him for his speech today, particularly for the emphasis he put on the ending of unnecessary suffering. This is something I very much hear from my constituents, and particularly their concern about loved ones having to go early before they lose competence at the end of the life.
My question for the minister is this. Given the concerns in the disability community about possibly facing a terrible choice, sometime in the future, between a life without the supports they need and perhaps choosing medical assistance in dying, which I do not believe the bill would actually allow, will the minister support the NDP proposal to have a national program that would lift all people living with disabilities out of poverty so that they do not face these stark choices and instead get the support they need to live lives that are equal with other Canadians'?
View Randall Garrison Profile
Madam Speaker, I heard the member for Peace River—Westlock express the sentiment, which I know is shared in the House, that people with disabilities should be able to live full lives on an equal basis with all other Canadians. The problem has been that this remains a sentiment, and people do not actually do anything to make that a reality.
I wonder if the hon. member will support the NDP proposal to establish a national income support program that would lift all people with disabilities out of poverty.
View Randall Garrison Profile
Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for Elmwood—Transcona for working with me on the proposal we sent last week to the government for a national income support program for people with disabilities that would replace the patchwork of programs across the country managed by the provinces.
I wonder if the member could comment on what he thinks the premiers' reactions or provincial governments' reactions would be to a federal national income support program for people with disabilities.
View Randall Garrison Profile
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Parkdale—High Park for his speech today and for his diligent work on Bill C-7.
I want to return to this question of timing that we have been kicking around in the questions here today. I have to say that COVID was partially responsible for the delay, but certainly the Liberal government's prorogation was a bigger cause for the delay in dealing with the bill.
I would ask the hon. member to return to the question he touched on a moment ago, which is this: What are the consequences for Quebec and for the rest of the country if we do not meet this deadline in Quebec, because Bill C-7 does provide some safeguards to implement the court decision?
View Randall Garrison Profile
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Brantford—Brant for his speech today. He is a member for whom I have a great deal of respect.
One of the things that COVID and the debate on Bill C-7 have done is expose something that has been there for anyone to look at if they chose to. That is the way we treat people with disabilities. We have not organized our society in a way that allows people with disabilities to live to their fullest potential or to live in equality with the rest of Canadians.
Would the hon. member support a national program of income support for people with disabilities that would lift all people with disabilities out of poverty and take away those stark choices he has been talking about?
View Randall Garrison Profile
Mr. Speaker, I want to start by thanking the hon. member for Montcalm for his important contributions to the work on the bill in the justice committee. I also want to thank him for a very thoughtful speech and very thoughtful answers to questions today in the House.
I want to ask the member about something I was disturbed to hear. It was some members, and I will say bluntly from the Conservative caucus, saying that this is an artificial timeline and that there was no need to pay attention to this deadline set by a court in Quebec, because it was only a court in Quebec and failing to meet the deadline would only affect Quebec. I was, of course, very unhappy to hear this kind of sentiment expressed, in its disdain for Quebec, its disdain for one of our courts and its disdain for the protections that would be provided in Bill C-7 to those on the second track of medical assistance in dying.
Does the member share those concerns?
View Randall Garrison Profile
Mr. Speaker, there are few, if any, issues that have come before Parliament that more clearly touch on our fundamental values as Canadians than medical assistance in dying.
Let me start today by restating what I said at the beginning of my speech in favour of Bill C-7 at second reading. When it comes to medical assistance in dying, the priority for New Democrats has always been, and remains, avoiding unnecessary suffering being inflicted on those who are already afflicted with terminal illnesses, and at the same time also avoiding prolonging suffering for the families who must bear witness to the suffering of their loved ones.
Here we are in late December, up against the deadline set by the Superior Court of Québec in the Truchon case. It does not really matter whose fault that is. Some of this delay was obviously due to COVID, but a good measure of the delay was due to the Liberals proroguing Parliament.
To me, it is manifestly unacceptable to hear some members arguing that we do not have to meet the deadline because it would “only affect Quebec.” In any case, the time has come for the House to act on Bill C-7. It is also time to act on another task as well. Not only has our consideration of the bill been delayed, but equally important, the five-year statutory review of the original medical assistance in dying legislation, Bill C-14, is now long overdue.
Members will know that some of us called on the government to get this review under way much earlier this year, so that it could have helped guide the consideration of Bill C-7. Again, COVID and prorogation intervened.
When it comes to medical assistance in dying, Parliament had two tasks before us. One was the need to amend the MAID legislation to conform with the charter as required by the Superior Court of Québec ruling. This ruling found the current law too restrictive, and that was in fact the very reason New Democrats voted against Bill C-14 at the original vote.
Making MAID laws conform to this ruling is, of course, the central purpose of Bill C-7. However, as I said, the second task with regard to medical assistance in dying was to conduct that statutory review of the broader issues, having had four years of experience with it.
As a result of growing increasingly concerned while waiting for the government to get the review under way, on October 8, I introduced Motion No. 51. My motion called for the creation of a special committee of the House of Commons to conduct this review. Special committees have some advantages when it comes to reviews of this kind. They are granted comparatively unlimited resources by the House and are not bound by the four hour per week schedule specified for standing committees, like the justice committee.
They are mandated to work on a single task, so they are not subject to the kinds of delays that can occur in standing committees, like the justice committee, where dealing with legislation must always, necessarily, take precedence over studies. Of course, special committees can make recommendations for actions needed beyond the confines of Bill C-7 or beyond the narrow court decisions.
Indeed, it was a special committee that made the original recommendations to the House that became Bill C-14. To be clear, this broader legislative review of issues arising out of medical assistance in dying was mandated in the original legislation and was supposed to start last June at the latest. It should have taken place, and would have taken place, whether or not there was a court decision in Quebec.
Bill C-14 required that the review specifically look at the question of advance requests or advance directives, requests from mature minors and requests where mental illness is the sole underlying condition. However, New Democrats have argued from the beginning that the mandate of that statutory review was missing a key element. That is why my motion called for a special committee with an expanded mandate to include the question of whether the safeguards in our medical assistance in dying legislation are adequate to protect the most vulnerable among us.
I am happy to say that I believe all parties now seem to agree that the mandate should be expanded to include this question. I am still not sure why the government is so adverse to a special committee, but I think it will find that members of the justice committee would reluctantly agree to the justice committee undertaking this review, as long as it had the expanded mandate. Though, of course, I will still worry that time, resources and the agenda of the standing committee may be too limited to do justice to the task.
Previously I have spoken about the issues of medical assistance in dying on very personal and very practical terms. I have spoken about my mother's fears of being trapped in a hospital bed while suffering and no longer knowing her family. I have spoken of a friend who chose medical assistance in dying much earlier than she might otherwise have done out of fear of losing her capacity to give final consent because of her growing brain tumour.
Now, in addition to these personal experiences, as a member of the justice committee I have had the privilege of talking to dozens of Canadians over Zoom, of hearing dozens of witnesses in committee and of reading even more briefs on medical assistance in dying.
I have been particularly and equally touched by the stories of families whose loved ones chose medical assistance in dying over prolonged suffering and the stories from those medical practitioners who provide that medical assistance in dying. My conversations with these families and with these doctors helped me understand how medical assistance in dying operates in real life. These conversations have made it clear to me that the current legislation has some unintended and cruel consequences. This was evident even before the Quebec court ruling.
Those who listened carefully to the terminally ill, their families and the practitioners providing medical assistance knew well that our current law often inflicts and prolongs unnecessary suffering. Bill C-7 addresses three of those cases of unnecessary and prolonged suffering. While it was not strictly required to do so by the Truchon decision, I rightly think the bill does take on that task of reducing suffering.
Most important to me, Bill C-7 will end the spectre of patients like Audrey Parker of Nova Scotia, who felt she had to leave early and choose an earlier date for receiving medical assistance in dying because of her fear of losing the competence required to give consent at the moment the assistance is rendered. Audrey Parker felt she had no choice but to miss one last Christmas with her family. I think we all owe her thanks for making her personal struggle public so that others would not have to face the same awful choice.
Bill C-7 will fix this by waiving the requirement for final consent for those already assessed and approved for medical assistance in dying. This waiver of final consent takes away that need for any person, and let me stress this again, who has already decided to request medical assistance in dying and has already been assessed and approved for that assistance. It will prevent them from having to go early in order to avoid the loss of competence that would prevent them from receiving the end to their suffering and the end of to their family's suffering that they desire.
Whether one supports waiving the requirement of consent at the moment assisted dying is provided or does not support that, Bill C-7 does not open the door wide to advance consent or advance directive. It is simply providing that waiver of final consent for those already assessed and approved. The topic of advance requests remains part of the mandate of the special committee I would like to see doing the statutory review.
This is a question of great concern to many of my constituents. In fact, it is the single thing I have heard the most about from my constituents. They are concerned about maintaining their autonomy and decision-making over how their end of life takes place. They want to make sure that their wishes are respected. I have to say that my discussions with practitioners providing medical assistance in dying have persuaded me that this question is not so simple as it appears on first look. As I have said, this will remain an important question for a statutory review to address, but it is not part of Bill C-7.
A second cause of unnecessary suffering that Bill C-7 will also eliminate is the mandatory 10-day waiting or, as it is sometimes called, reflection period. The evidence provided in the report of the Association of Medical Assistance in Dying Assessors and Providers shows that nearly half the patients receiving medical assistance in dying chose to do so on or about the 11th day. What does that tell us? It tells us that they their suffering was prolonged simply to meet that statutory waiting period of 10 days.
I know concerns have been raised by members of Parliament about people changing their minds, but the statistics on people changing their minds about medical assistance in dying show that people do that during the assessment period, before they are actually approved. What the waiting period does is it makes patients hold out for days longer on what has already been assessed as intolerable suffering just to meet the statutory requirements. All patients are made to spend this time suffering and few if any are actually reflecting on the situation, because at this point to relieve the pain they are heavily sedated. If we truly respect the agency of patients who are terminal and suffering, then we ought not to impose a cruel waiting period.
Let me say as an aside how disappointed I have been to hear some members of Parliament alleging that Bill C-7 somehow creates the possibility of what they call “same-day dying”. It does nothing of the kind.
That would only be possible if the medical professionals involved skipped their duties and their professional responsibilities as prescribed in law and in their own professional codes of conduct. That is what it would take to produce such a result. Making this false allegation is insulting to the patients and the medical practitioners who provide this service. It demonstrates how little those who use that term know about the actual process of medical assistance in dying.
Another misleading “fact” that has often been cited in this debate occurs when members ask how can anyone support Bill C-7 when “doctors oppose it”. What those members are referring to is a petition submitted to the justice committee, a petition signed by more than 700 physicians. What this selective siding ignores is that the Canadian Medical Association, which represents more than 70,000 doctors, has come out squarely in favour of Bill C-7. That is nearly 100 times as many doctors as those who signed the petition.
Let me point to another positive change in Bill C-7 that reduces suffering, which has been willfully misconstrued: the reduction of the requirement that two independent people witness the signature of the patient requesting medical assistance in dying.
This change was suggested by practitioners as a result of the experience they have already had will Bill C-14. Clinicians and families often found the process of identifying a second independent witness was difficult, especially in rural and remote areas, because of the requirement of independence. It often also raised privacy concerns, as it involved an extra person in this process.
We must remember that the purpose of witnesses is only to verify the identity of the person making the request. Two independent medical assessors have already been involved each and every step of the way throughout the process. They have already had to certify the patient's eligibility for MAID. Practitioners have said this second witness provision is unduly restrictive and, again, often only ends up unnecessarily prolonging suffering.
At this point, I want to turn to some of the specific concerns about Bill C-7 that were raised at the justice committee.
The first concern is about the removal of the requirement that death be reasonably foreseeable in order for someone to proceed with medical assistance in dying. Of course, this provision was removed by the Quebec court decision, not by Bill C-7.
Bill C-7 makes sure that medical assistance in dying legislation conforms with the decision of the court. It said limiting medical assistance in dying to cases where death was imminent was a violation of the Charter rights of patients whose death might not be on the immediate horizon but whose condition left them in intolerable suffering.
Bill C-7 creates a second track for those whose death is not imminent and specifies a second set of requirements and safeguards appropriate for the second track. The decision about whether the reasonable foreseeable provision should be removed is not made by Bill C-7. It is a decision made by the Quebec courts. I believe this is consistent with the Carter decision.
I want to take a moment to address those who say there is no need to meet the deadline opposed by the Quebec Superior Court. I remind them that without Bill C-7, those whose death is not reasonably foreseeable will come under the existing requirements immediately and will be without any of the conditions specified in Bill C-7 as appropriate for the second track. Regardless of whether people believe the safeguards are adequate, I ask them to understand that if we do not meet the deadline, there are no safeguards in the second track at all.
I believe most of us accept that there are good reasons to differentiate between the two tracks and to have additional requirements appropriate for those whose death is not imminent. Bill C-7 rightly sets out a more restrictive process and therefore requires more time for assessment and decision-making for the second track.
In addition, it does not set a reflection period of 90 days. It sets an assessment period of 90 days. That is an important distinction. It is not a maximum of 90 days; it is a minimum of 90 days. I do not think we should get confused on that point.
The second concern I want to address is a very important concern of the disability advocates: with the removal of the requirement that death be imminent, there will be pressure on the vulnerable in our society to choose medical assistance in dying.
Nothing in Bill C-7 changes the very high standards set in the original Bill C-14 for receiving medical assistance in dying. To receive this assistance, patients must have a condition that is incurable, must be in an advanced state of irreversible decline and must face intolerable suffering. This means Bill C-7 does not open the door wide, as some have suggested.
However, let me be clear here. I do not, in any way, wish to dismiss the concerns of the disability community over their vulnerability. That is why I have been calling for an expanded mandate of the statutory review so that we require it to consider the question of whether safeguards to protect the vulnerable in our medical assistance in dying legislation are adequate. Again, this may require us to look beyond the narrow confines of the medical assistance in dying legislation to other health legislation and other social support legislation.
That is why my colleague, the member for Elmwood—Transcona, and I have just delivered today a joint letter to the Minister of Disability Inclusion calling for a new national income support program, set at $2,200 per month, for all persons with disabilities. This would be a single, national program to replace the patchwork of provincial programs that rarely come close to the amount that we have all now acknowledged with CERB as the minimum necessary. Providing such a benefit would be an important step toward a guaranteed basic income for all Canadians. More importantly, in the context of the bill, this would provide support at a level that would help avoid placing persons with disabilities in a position where dying looks like a better option than living without the supports they need.
Failure to provide the necessary resources to ensure that everyone can enjoy full and equal participation in life is a long-standing and ongoing black mark on the federal Parliament and all provincial parliaments. We have only to look at the failure to deliver additional assistance promptly to persons with disabilities during this pandemic to remind ourselves how often we forget about those living with disabilities.
As we consider how to recover from the pandemic, I hope we can adopt this proposed federal program that would provide all people with disabilities the equivalent of a living wage. This would be an important step toward relieving the fears about having to make a terrible choice eventually with medical assistance in dying.
Given the speeches from all parties stressing the need to take the situation of people with disabilities seriously, and in light of the Quebec Superior Court decision, I believe we should be able to marshal immediate support for this proposal in a minority Parliament. It would be an important step in mending the gaps in our social safety net that COVID has revealed. COVID has taught us that we can roll out income support programs quickly when we really want to do so.
As I near the end of my time, let me take a moment to address one last phenomena I observed in our committee discussions and one that I found very disturbing. It was the tendency of some members to mix together issues of suicide and medical assistance in dying. These are two completely different issues, distinct both medically and morally.
Medical assistance in dying does not provide a way to take one's own life. The testimony from physicians and families involved in medical assistance in dying told us very clearly that no one involved in medical assistance in dying wants anyone to die: not the families, not the physicians and certainly not the patients themselves. Medical assistance in dying is about those who are already dying and are far along that path and in intolerable suffering. It is about them being able to have control about how their life ends and when that suffering for them and their family will come to an end. It is not about choosing to die.
The New Democrats continue to support Bill C-7, as it contains significant measures that will help bring an end to unnecessary suffering and provide the necessary safeguards in the second track for those whose deaths is not reasonably foreseeable. It will do so in time to meet the deadline hopefully imposed in the Truchon decision.
We will continue to demand that we get started on the statutory review, which should already have begun. Proceeding with Bill C-7 without proceeding with the review is only getting half the job done on medical assistance in dying. At the same time, it potentially undermines public support for medical assistance in dying, which so far has only continued to grow.
In conclusion, I want to say again that I believe as a society we must do a better job of providing for the most vulnerable among us and those who are differently abled. In the case of the tragic deficiencies in end-of-life care and in the lived experiences of people with disabilities, COVID has taught us how much further we have to go toward a fully compassionate and fully equal society. I urge all parliamentarians not to ignore those lessons.
View Randall Garrison Profile
Mr. Speaker, this is one of the questions that I am always ashamed gets asked in Parliament. I am not in the business of undermining professional organizations in how they represent their members, nor am I in the business of spreading fake news. However, given some of the comments from the member in this debate, I can see why fake news is on her mind.
View Randall Garrison Profile
Mr. Speaker, I share the member's concern. I have not actually seen the comments by the leader of the Conservatives, but I have heard it from other Conservatives. They imply that we do not need to take into account the considerations of people facing these issues in Quebec by meeting the deadline from the court.
Why are we at this late date to meet the deadline? That lies squarely at the feet of the Liberal government. However, I believe it is important that we provide approval of Bill C-7 in time to meet the deadline imposed by the court so that we do not leave people in Quebec without necessary protections.
View Randall Garrison Profile
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her kind words disguised as a question.
The proposal we made to the government for a federal income support program at the national level would free up lots of money in the provinces. It is my hope that provinces would then use the money they had been providing for income support to provide additional methods of assistance to people, whether it is modifying homes so they can stay in their own homes or care assistance. Whatever those people with disabilities need to reach their full potential in life would be more available if the provinces could shift that money to provide supports.
It is really important that Parliament seriously consider taking away the fears that many in the disability community have, as the failure to provide them supports makes them make uncomfortable and awful choices down the line.
View Randall Garrison Profile
Mr. Speaker, there are so many things I would like to address in that question. First, however, I want to stress again that medical assistance in dying has nothing to do with suicide. These are two completely different issues. I do respect the challenges that COVID has brought with respect to mental health across the country. That is a separate issue for us to address.
In the example he gave, he is doing something that has been done over and over again, and that is to repeat second-hand anecdotal information, which I have no way of verifying, nor does he. However, on the face of what he said, this person does not and could not qualify for medical assistance in dying. Mental illness, as the sole underlying condition, is not allowed as a condition for medical assistance in dying. If a practitioner had provided it solely on that basis, that person would be in violation of the law and his or her professional ethics.
In those cases, we have seen a report on medical assistance in dying and the number of complaints that have been filed on professional ethics or criminally for people providing medical assistance in dying to those who are not eligible is zero.
View Randall Garrison Profile
Mr. Speaker, the member's question gives me a chance to thank four practitioners, and I will not name them for reasons of privacy, who provide medical assistance in dying. They shared a lot of their personal time with me to talk about what it meant to them as physicians to provide this service. They feel that medical assistance in dying is a way of fulfilling the highest ideals in their medical oath, that they are assisting people in avoiding unnecessary suffering and they are assisting families in that task.
Frankly, they have been appalled by some of the wild charges that have been alleged about what they are doing in their professional task in helping people with the end-of-life issues they face.
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