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Results: 1 - 7 of 7
View Dave Epp Profile
View Dave Epp Profile
2021-03-11 15:00 [p.4918]
Mr. Speaker, Dr. Mark Sinyor, a renowned psychiatrist, has stated with regard to MAID that “in medicine we quantify the harms of new treatments before deciding whether it is acceptable to use them.... The process that the Senate and the House of Commons propose to facilitate the provision of MAID for mental illness really reflects a sunset on the scientific method and usual medical standards. That should worry us all.”
So much for following medical and scientific advice. Does this not worry the Minister of Justice?
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 Kelly Block Profile
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak at report stage of Bill C-7, an act to amend the Criminal Code, medical assistance in dying, with which the government is seeking to dramatically expand the existing euthanasia regime in Canada.
The government claimed to want to protect vulnerable Canadians. It claimed to be open to our amendments. I see no evidence whatsoever for either of these claims.
Despite knowing full well the concerns that numerous groups had, including those disability rights groups, with the pre-prorogation version of the bill, the minister reintroduced the exact same legislation word for word. In fact, the bill even has the same number. The minister refused to pre-emptively adopt any of the proposed amendments, and has hidden behind the Truchon decision throughout this debate.
What of the Truchon decision? First, it is beyond unacceptable that the Liberal government did not appeal the Truchon decision to the Supreme Court. Truchon struck down vital protections for vulnerable Canadians, protections that this very government put in less than five years ago. Not only would appealing this decision have brought necessary clarity to the legal status of federal euthanasia legislation, it was also the right thing to do.
Instead, the minister used the Truchon decision, which struck down the reasonably foreseeable death requirement in the province of Quebec, to justify a wholesale abandonment of euthanasia safeguards put in place by the previous minister, the member for Vancouver Granville, and the creation of an advanced consent framework, open to any number of abuses.
That member for Vancouver Granville raised these concerns in this place. She said:
Nothing in the Truchon decision...and the Supreme Court of Canada, in Carter, insisted on the requirement of clear consent. Palliative care physicians, disability advocates and other experts insist that this is an important safeguard, and, like other legislated MAID reports on mature minors and mental disorder, advance requests also raise significant challenges.
However, the minister refuses to listen. A statutory review of the impacts of Bill C-14, required by law, has not been undertaken. That review is mandatory to ensure that the safeguards in place are effectively protecting the elderly and infirm Canadians from manipulation and abuse. Instead of waiting to make these changes until the mandatory review was completed, the Minister of Justice pushed forward his own ideological stamps. He blindly pushed Canadians into the dark instead of the light. Sadly, I am not surprised the minister would push this ideology on vulnerable Canadians. When Bill C-14 was introduced, after all, he opposed his own government's legislation. Now, as the minister, he is refusing to listen.
It has always been my priority and that of my colleagues to ensure that any legislation on euthanasia and assisted suicide includes strong safeguards for the most vulnerable in our society as well as for the conscience rights of health professionals. This is clearly not the minister's priority. Instead, by allowing advanced directives for assisted suicide without any legal assurance that individuals will have the opportunity to change their minds and with Liberal members voting down an amendment that would have required those seeking euthanasia to be given an opportunity to refuse it on the day in question, could mean that people could be legally euthanized in their sleep without any opportunity for them to change their mind. This is horrifying. How can the Liberals possibly justify this?
Inclusion Canada, a disability rights organization, has stated that the legislation is its worst nightmare and that it is a moral affront to equate euthanasia to an equality right. The minister still refuses to listen.
The most egregious, in my view, is the removal of the 10-day waiting period and the need for two independent witnesses. The Liberals also voted against a seven-day-waiting period amendment proposed at committee. They made a deliberate choice to strike down one of the most important safeguards for vulnerable people facing uncertain medical prognosis and have opened Pandora's box to same-day death.
Each of us can think of someone in our lives, perhaps a friend, a grandparent or even a spouse, who has received a serious medical diagnosis. The emotional impact of hearing that news can be overwhelming for both the patients and their families. It can cause depression, anxiety and a great fear of the unknown, especially now in the face of the ongoing pandemic.
Many of us can also think of loved ones who have received terminal diagnoses, only to beat their illness and live for years afterward. However, with the safeguards of two independent witnesses and a 10-day waiting period gone, such stories will be fewer and further between. Without a mandated length of time to collect themselves, to receive support from their families and to learn about treatment options or get second opinions, some people will make emotional decisions based on fear.
Taylor Hyatt, a young woman with a visible disability, shared her experience while suffering from pneumonia and in need of oxygen to help her to breathe. She said:
After taking a cab to the nearest hospital, I was immediately admitted. A couple hours – and many tests – later, the doctor was no closer to finding out what caused my illness. When she finally came to see me, at about 11pm, she said: “The only thing we know is that this infection affects your breathing. You may need oxygen. Is that something you’d want?” My answer was: “Well, of course!” She seemed surprised maybe, or unconvinced, so she asked again: “Are you sure?” I replied, “Well, of course!
Any non-disabled person would have received oxygen immediately, but instead the doctor asked her twice, leaving Taylor to believe that the doctor assumed that because she was disabled she may not want to live. What if Taylor had felt overwhelmed that day and requested euthanasia in a moment of weakness? At the time, she would have had 10 days to reconsider this choice. If this bill passes, she could have died that day and the world would have lost a great warrior for the rights of disabled Canadians. How can we allow for the legal possibility of such a tragedy?
Every Canadian should feel great shame for these failures. We are and we must be better than this. Every great or good society is judged by how it treats those deemed to be the least among them. How can we claim to be either great or good if we treat the Taylor Hyatts of our nation as if their lives are less valuable than our own. We must protect the innate dignity of every human life, knowing that nothing, not time, not illness, not disability, can ever take that dignity away.
Still, the minister refuses to listen. He is ignoring the statutory review but only to weaken protections, not to strengthen them. Not only has he torn down protections for vulnerable Canadians, he has placed medical professionals into an even more precarious position than the current regime by expanding the eligibility and thereby the number of medical professionals who are impacted. The Liberal members voted down an amendment that would have protected the charter rights of medical professionals, trampling their rights in the rush to a predetermined ideological end goal.
Tens of thousands of doctors believe, truly and wholeheartedly, that taking part in an assisted suicide breaches their calling to do no harm. Those beliefs are protected in our charter, but not in this, nor in any other federal legislation regarding euthanasia. Such a glaring omission makes it clear that this minister's priority is not to protect the rights of Canadian citizens but to push his ideology as far as possible. That is something I cannot and will not support.
I would plead with the other place to take the time needed for a sober second thought, removed as they are from the minister's ideological fixation, because the minister is refusing to listen.
View Rob Moore Profile
View Rob Moore Profile
2020-12-02 20:40 [p.2862]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak this evening, virtually, from my home province of New Brunswick, to what is a very important issue for Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
Four days is how long the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights took to study Bill C-7. I have listened with great interest to my colleagues on all sides of the House as we debate this important issue, and it has become abundantly clear that the amount of time the government allocated for the study of this legislation was woefully inadequate. That became abundantly clear to me as a member of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, where we heard witness after witness, in testimony after testimony, talk about the negative impacts that this legislation will have on Canadians, particularly Canadians with disabilities.
I go into this debate with an open mind. I know that all 338 members of the House of Commons come from different political parties, different backgrounds and different perspectives, but I would hope that most of us are united in our resolve to protect those who are vulnerable and help those who are less fortunate than some of the rest of us. Some of those people appeared before our committee. We had persons with disabilities and other persons who are vulnerable, and under Bill C-7, they would be, for the first time ever, eligible for assisted death in our country.
Bill C-7 is not a moderate change from the existing law. Five years ago, Bill C-14 was passed into law under a majority Liberal government, and it provided for assisted dying. One of the features in that bill, and there was a number of them, were the safeguards that were put in place. One of those safeguards was that a person's death had to be reasonably foreseeable in order for them to be eligible for assisted dying. In other words, the person had to be dying to be eligible for assisted dying.
There were other safeguards in place too, including a 10-day reflection period. We throw around terms like “life-or-death question” or “life-or-death situation”, but assisted dying truly is life or death, and the 10-day reflection period gave someone an opportunity to change their mind.
As members know, with the Truchon decision in Quebec, the Superior Court decided that a safeguard for the reasonable foreseeability of death was not constitutional. It is my position and the position of the Conservative Party, as well as that of many Canadians, that this decision should have been appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, for certainty. One of the key things the Attorney General does on behalf of a government, which is one of the key things a government does, is defend government legislation. This is brand new legislation on a brand new idea in Canada. However, the Liberal government, even at the first instance, did not defend its own legislation and its own safeguards, and did not appeal the decision.
We have heard from so many different groups, such as palliative care doctors and persons with disabilities, and they spoke of the need to appeal the decision. We heard at committee how important it would have been to do so. However, rather than appeal the decision, the government brought in Bill C-7, which not only responded to the Quebec court decision but went further in stripping away a number of safeguards that existed in the previous legislation.
At committee, the Conservative Party moved 10 amendments that were based on the feedback we heard from persons with disabilities, palliative care doctors and other specialists. They would have put back in place some of the safeguards that had been stripped away. However, one by one, amendment after amendment, these very modest proposals were defeated by the Liberal government.
I want to mention a few of those proposals.
One was to maintain the 10-day reflection period to give individuals who may change their mind about assisted dying the opportunity to do so.
Another was the requirement that two independent witnesses, neither of whom are paid, be there throughout the process of assisted dying. We sometimes have two witnesses for wills. Surely, to ensure ultimate safeguards we should have two independent witnesses for MAID.
Another was ensuring the physician who is dealing with the individual has an expertise in whatever ailment the patient is facing. That is not a requirement in this legislation.
We heard powerful testimony from Roger Foley. Members may have heard of his case. He recorded conversations he had with individuals within the hospital who were trying to encourage him to consider MAID, assisted death. I think he is someone who has so much to give, even in his state as a person living with a disability. Roger Foley appeared before the justice committee, and he did that not for himself, but to help other Canadians living with disabilities so they would not be faced with the same thing he was faced with: individuals advising him that he is eligible for assisted dying.
I have heard a number of members tonight talk about the equality of Canadians. We heard from different groups representing persons with disabilities, and they see this as an equality issue. They say there is no equality under this law because they are being singled out. They are asking why they are being singled out.
Dr. Catherine Frazee, a person with disabilities and a professor at the school of disability studies at Ryerson University, said:
Bill C-7 begs the question, why us? Why only us? Why only people whose bodies are altered or painful or in decline? Why not everyone who lives outside the margins of a decent life, everyone who resorts to an overdose, a high bridge, or a shotgun carried out into the woods? Why not everyone who decides that their quality of life is in the ditch?
As I mentioned, we heard from Roger Foley, who said:
What is happening to vulnerable persons in Canada is so wrong. Assisted dying is easier to access than safe and appropriate disability supports to live. Committee members, you cannot let this happen to me and others. You have turned your backs on the disabled and elderly Canadians. You or your family and friends will all be in my shoes one day. You cannot let this sliding regime continue.
As Conservatives, we have listened throughout this process. That's why we said the government should have appealed the decision.
As members know, there was a five-year mandatory review under Bill C-14 of the assisted dying regime in Canada. We know that was to start this summer, but the government did not even get the benefit of the mandatory parliamentary review before it brought in sweeping changes that fundamentally alter the assisted dying regime in Canada and alter it against the wishes of persons with disabilities, palliative care doctors and people who are caring for people at the end of their life.
We need to get this right. I would have loved to see an openness from the government to adopt some of our amendments, such as the one Roger Foley asked for, which would have specifically prohibited doctors from bringing up MAID to patients and required that it went the other way around so that the patient would have to bring it up.
For those for whom death is not reasonably foreseeable, who would be eligible for MAID under Bill C-7, we could have extended the reflection period to 120 days. This is based on testimony we heard. It would give time for treatments to take effect and for people to come to terms with their situation.
This is an important bill. It is one that we should have taken more time with. I know the Senate will be looking at it, but I urge all parliamentarians to think of persons living with disabilities who are saying no to the bill.
View Maxime Blanchette-Joncas Profile
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. I wonder if we are wasting our time today.
Yesterday, we were talking about conversion therapy, a file Quebec has been a leader on, but still has to wait for Ottawa. We are always trailing behind Ottawa because we are always waiting for Ottawa to get moving and get on board. Today we are talking about medical assistance in dying because a decision was made in Quebec, which is ahead of the curve there too. We have come back to Ottawa to work on this file again. If Quebec were independent we would not be wasting our time duplicating our work on these types of files.
I want to come back to my colleague's speech. Legislators did not do their job when it comes to former Bill C-14 on medical assistance in dying. That is why we are here today. We have to come back to this file because the Bloc Québécois's proposed amendments in 2016 to avoid bringing the courts into social and political issues were rejected. We are coming back to it today because a decision was made by the Quebec Superior Court.
I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about people who have a serious irreversible illness and are essentially forced to go to court. These people are already sick and have to fight the system to be able to access medical assistance in dying. Sometimes they even have to go on a hunger strike to be heard.
My colleague talked about dignity earlier. Does she see any dignity or humanity in putting people in this position?
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-10-19 11:39 [p.835]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today, but I find it difficult to be speaking to another attempt by the Liberal government to endanger the most vulnerable in our society.
After just four years, when the original euthanasia and assisted suicide legislation came in through Bill C-14, we find ourselves considering legislation that would further loosen restrictions, eliminate safeguards and confuse our country's understanding of the sanctity of life and the government's role in end-of-life decisions. Once again, we have been told that in order to uphold the charter rights of some we must endanger the rights and freedoms of others.
I did not support Bill C-14 for many reasons. The first is the fact that the Supreme Court of Canada invoked such controversial and flawed legislation, which has been proven to be poorly applied around the world. The Liberals also chose to broaden the scope of the legislation, going far beyond the Carter decision. Another reason is that it has been placed ahead of and continues to overshadow any significant palliative care initiative.
In 2019, the Prime Minister promised to expand eligibility criteria, and on September 11 of last year, the Superior Court of Quebec ruled that it is unconstitutional to limit assisted suicide or euthanasia only to those whose death is reasonably foreseeable. Without even appealing the ruling and seeking the advice of the Supreme Court, which has been long occupied with this matter, the Liberals accepted the ruling. They are now rushing to change the law for our entire country.
They gave Canadians a mere two weeks to have their views heard on this deeply personal and complicated issue through a flawed online consultation questionnaire. The use of convoluted and biased language left little to the imagination in terms of how the government planned to legislate assisted death. I too tried to fill it out, and I would argue that many opposed would have been discouraged in participating due solely to the language used.
With such a flawed method, and with no idea if the feedback even remotely reflects the actual views of Canadians, how can the government proceed with this legislation in good faith? This is a rhetorical question because it does not seem to matter to these Liberals. It is clear they used this brief window for feedback to satiate the need for a consultative process.
We also know the government ignored its own timeline for a review of the original assisted suicide legislation, Bill C-14. It was planned for this summer, and instead, we have been presented with this reckless legislation. In the midst of COVID, this was still something very important. Without a proper review and without input from the Supreme Court, this House has been asked to greatly broaden the scope of assisted suicide and euthanasia without a clear enough understanding of whether the current regime is being consistently interpreted or properly enforced.
Bill C-7 is being rushed through. This is concerning. When reading through this bill, I see elements that go beyond the scope of the Superior Court of Quebec's decision, namely, Bill C-7 would eliminate the 10-day waiting period between the date the request is signed and the day on which the procedure is carried out.
The application of the law pertaining to those whose death is reasonably foreseeable has been problematic from the very start of this debate. We know a person's reasonably foreseeable death is a flexible estimation, taking into account all of their medical circumstances, without a prognosis necessarily having been made as to the specific length of time they have remaining. The elimination of the 10-day waiting period for persons whose death is reasonably foreseeable would create the conditions for someone with an indeterminate length of time remaining in their life, possibly years, to be rushed to the decision to receive assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Aside from simply eliminating what most Canadians would consider to be a reasonable period of reflection, this element of the bill also ignores the possibility of medical advances and improved treatment methods in an incredibly innovative medical science environment. As Cardinal Collins has said, Bill C-7 creates the conditions where an individual can seek a medically assisted death faster than the wait time for a gym membership or a condominium purchase.
I also see no logical reason why the government would reduce the number of independent witnesses required for when the request is signed. It is down from two to one. The government has even relaxed the definition of someone who may serve as a witness, including medical professionals or personal care workers, even those who are paid to provide euthanasia and assisted suicide on a daily basis. This is in clause 1(8).
Surely we can agree that, for the vast majority of those requesting euthanasia and assisted suicide, the requirement for two independent individuals to witness a request to end a life is a reasonable safeguard. How do the Liberals plan to properly protect patients from potential malpractice? How does the government plan on ensuring requesters are presented with a myriad of treatment options rather than just one opinion?
The legislation continues as a series of safeguards the medical practitioner must adhere to before providing assisted suicide to those whose death is not reasonably foreseeable. One of these safeguards would require a medical practitioner to discuss with the person the means available to relieve their suffering, including palliative care.
The safeguard is even weaker for those whose death is reasonably foreseeable, requiring the medical practitioner to merely inform the person of these vital options. The government failed to follow through on its promise to invest $3 billion in long-term care, which includes palliative care. There does not appear to be any political will whatsoever to improve palliative care.
Canadians have also been calling on the government for a long-awaited national strategy for palliative care. There is a thirst among Canadians for real solutions to end-of-life care. The government seems all too willing to ignore the 70% of Canadians without access to palliative care and, instead, attempts to impose on them a flawed, one-size-fits-all regime. We can already see the consequences of pushing forward an assisted dying agenda when there is little regard for palliative care.
In British Columbia, the Delta Hospice Society was stripped of 94% of its operating budget for refusing to provide euthanasia in a facility intended for the provision of palliative care. Despite repeated attempts to defend its Charter-protected, faith-based objection to being required to provide euthanasia and reach a compromise in good faith, 10 hospice care beds are now at risk and will be surely defunded.
Why do the Liberals continue to ignore the voices of those who have a different perspective on the issue of end-of-life care? People who seek hospice care are seeking it for a reason. They do not desire a medically assisted death. In effect, what has happened in B.C. is an attempt to redefine what constitutes palliative care.
In fact, the Fraser Health Authority's decision flies in the face of the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians, which has clarified that euthanasia and assisted suicide are distinct from palliative care. I caution Canadians not to regard the Delta Hospice Society's situation as an isolated one. The government has shown little interest in supporting hospice care, and I would not be surprised by further attacks on the ability of Canadians to chose to end their lives naturally.
In The Globe and Mail, Sarah Gray put it well, stating, “The hospice isn’t a place where people come to die. It is where they come to live — to live well for the little time they have left. It is a place of celebration, connection, comfort and support. It is a place of safety for the dying and the grieving.” In Cardinal Collins' words, let us work to create a “culture of care”, rather than rush toward a culture of “death on demand”.
The government would also be wise to recall that much of the debate on Bill C-14 revolved around calls for a solid framework of conscience protection for medical practitioners involved throughout the end-of-life process. At committee, witnesses stated that the protection of conscience should be included in the government's legislative response to Carter v. Canada.
The Canadian Medical Association confirmed conscience protection for physicians would not affect access to physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia. Its statistics indicated that 30% of physicians across Canada, or 24,000, are willing to provide it. I live in a rural area of Canada, and I can assure members there are many provisions that are not available to me directly where I live.
Unfortunately, the Liberals failed to defend the conscience rights of Canadians in Bill C-14. I also found it disappointing that they failed to support, in the last Parliament, critical legislation put forward by David Anderson in Bill C-418, the protection of freedom of conscience act. It would have made it a criminal offence to intimidate or force a medical professional to be involved in the procedure. It would also have made it a criminal offence to fire or refuse to employ a medical professional who refuses to take part directly or indirectly in MAID.
Here we are four years later, and Bill C-7 is also void of any provisions that would protect the section 2 rights of Canadians. In Canada, everyone has freedom of conscience and religion under section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. No one has the right to demand all services from all providers in all circumstances. As David stated, protections are needed for doctors and health care providers who are not willing to leave their core ethics behind when they are at a patient's bedside. Access to euthanasia and conscientious objection are not mutually exclusive.
We, as legislators, must ask ourselves where the Liberals will draw the line. There will always be the voices of those in our society who feel that the limitations and safeguards are too stringent. When will it be enough for the Liberal government? How far are they willing to go? What message are we sending to the most vulnerable and fragile in our society?
Over the last five years I have advocated for our veterans. I know there are countless veterans who appear able to cope with debilitating physical injuries, but they are extremely vulnerable in their mental health. We are all concerned about the number of them choosing to end their lives by suicide because of complications after serving our country. It is antithetical to try to prevent them from taking their own lives, yet tell them that there are government-designed opportunities to do so.
Bill C-7 fails to provide conscience protection, fails to protect the vulnerable and fails to fulfill the need—
View Francis Drouin Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, the previous bill required two witnesses and this bill only requires one witness. This was actually raised with the Minister of Justice. I believe this will correct the issues that arose from the previous bill, Bill C-14. The current bill strikes the right balance to make sure there is access to a doctor or nurse who has knowledge of the particular patients in question.
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