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Results: 1 - 8 of 8
View Tamara Jansen Profile
CPC (BC)
Madam Speaker, the parliamentary secretary said, back in late November, that “the issue of sensitivity toward persons with disabilities is central for all parliamentarians in the House.” I could not agree more. He also stated that the Liberals “are crafting a piece of legislation that ensures the autonomy, dignity and competence of individuals.” I wish that were the truth.
What has been crafted is a bill that declares that some lives are not worth living. In fact, Bill C-7 has shocked and terrified those in the disability community. Why has a policy generated so much fear among so many vulnerable citizens?
First and foremost, it is because they understand the inherent discrimination in this bill. To state that people who are bedridden or are dependent on others for hygiene or feeding have lost their dignity is a marginalizing and ableist myth. This is the perspective of the “worried well,” such as my hon. colleague and his friends at Dying With Dignity. Dignity is never lost, but it can be either affirmed or denied.
Speaking of myths, let us deal with the idea that Bill C-7 is not discriminatory. The fact is Canadian disability organizations, mental health organizations, indigenous organizations and the U.N. all say that Bill C-7 is discriminatory. This bill singles out vulnerable Canadians and offers them physician-assisted death without offering adequate disability supports or treatment to help them live full lives free of the suffering caused by poor health care, poverty and stigma. It singles out persons with disabilities who are not terminally ill as fit for suicide completion. This will become a choice of desperation, not autonomy.
Let us understand what discrimination really is. It is pretending that all Canadians are equal in all ways. The obvious reality here is that some of us face profound life challenges. We need laws that protect the disadvantaged. A law that offers death to one group, and support and treatment to all others is the paradigm of discrimination.
This law proclaims that a disabled Canadian should consider death instead of recovery. Vulnerable patients need protection from politicians and doctors who want to make it easier for them to die, while simultaneously denying access to appropriate health care supports. This is true discrimination.
The second myth that needs to be countered is the idea that Bill C-7 must be passed right away, because suffering Canadians need relief through MAID as fast as possible. Let us face it: if this were true, then it is also true that adequate palliative care, disability supports, and mental health care must be available as fast as possible, because it is the absence of these that makes people suffer so much that they want to die rather than live.
If it were not for the COVID pandemic, Parliament Hill would see the largest protest of disabled Canadians ever assembled. If it were not for poverty and marginalization and the fact that most Canadians are unaware of the shocking push for state-sanctioned suicide, those protestors would be joined by millions more.
I have listened to the wealthy and healthy politicians opine on what they would wish for if it were them in such a terrible position. They say, with a straight face, that we must hurry to act to stop this horrible suffering, not because they are suddenly seeing what has always been in front of their eyes, but because of the realization that it could be them some day.
This bill would ensure that disabled Canadians would be treated as second-class citizens. I beg the parliamentary secretary, for the love of God, will he join me in voting firmly against this Frankenstein bill?
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2021-02-22 20:07 [p.4409]
Madam Speaker, medical assistance in dying is a complex and difficult issue. It calls on us to reflect on some fundamental interests and values, such as the protection and support of our most vulnerable. We need to reflect on the meaning and inherent value of life, and we need to consider how to balance an individual's right to make important decisions for themselves with the responsibilities we all have to others.
Many aspects of Bill C-7 generate opposing views. We have just heard some of them from my hon. colleague from the official opposition. The witnesses who appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights took different views on proposed amendments, such as the exclusion of persons whose sole medical condition is a mental illness and the proposal to allow for the waiver of final consent, to name just a couple. This is to be expected on an issue as complicated as this one. It is also a reflection of the vibrancy of our public discourse in the health care sector and of our civil society.
The potential impact of the bill on persons with disabilities is another issue that has received significant attention, and that is entirely appropriate. It is clear that national disability rights organizations do not support the core aspect of Bill C-7, which is the removal of the eligibility criterion of death that is reasonably foreseeable. Their view is that medical assistance in dying must be limited to persons at the end of life. They call the end-of-life criterion the great equalizer: Everyone will one day reach that stage. At the same time, ineligibility is also equitable: Everyone who is not at the end of life, in their view, is protected by the criminal law prohibition against people helping others to end life.
The removal of the end-of-life requirement raised the grave worry that persons with disabilities would be steered towards medically assisted death by subtle medical and societal pressures and that disabled individuals would choose medical assistance in dying not because their disability was causing them unbearable suffering but because the care they needed was not forthcoming, as was highlighted by the member opposite.
There was also the worry that the proposed amendment discriminates against persons with disabilities by singling them out as a category of persons who could obtain medical assistance in dying on the basis of their suffering.
I think what is important is to be reflective and responsive to the positions of these very important organizations and the thousands of Canadians they represent. At the same time, we need to be responsive to the views and wishes of other persons with disabilities and other serious illnesses who take a different view.
I would remind the member opposite and this chamber that in the actual Truchon decision, Monsieur Truchon and Madam Gladu were themselves persons with disabilities. They felt that their autonomy, their independence, and indeed their rights to equality under the charter were discriminated against by virtue of not being able to avail themselves of medical assistance in dying because of the requirement of needing to be at the end of life. The court in that case found in their favour, finding that the previous regime was itself discriminatory against persons with disabilities. That is the court's determination. That is what we were responding to here.
Clearly, there are many others in that camp as well, including the Senate sponsor of the bill and including a former Conservative cabinet minister, Mr. Steven Fletcher, who has echoed the exact same concern: that the rights of autonomy and dignity of all people, including all people with disabilities, must be respected and entrenched in whatever legislation is coming forward. Compassion requires that we consider their views as well.
I agree that disability groups in this country raised extremely grave and serious concerns. We must turn our attention to ways we can address them. In my view and the view of the government, there are ways to address those concerns that do not have the effect of denying others the medical service that they feel is right for them. Yes, we must do more to support persons with disabilities in this country to ensure that they have equitable access to all forms of excellent medical care, such as what was listed by the member opposite, and including things like proper housing and the different kinds of supports that they need to thrive.
View Tamara Jansen Profile
CPC (BC)
Madam Speaker, one might think that poverty groups, disability groups and indigenous peoples could count on progressive politicians to hear and stand with them in solidarity, helping to amplify their noble voices against the shocking wall of disregard. Sadly, they are on the other side, trying to protect themselves from the Liberal government.
With the passing of the bill, their battle for respect as valuable contributors to the fabric of a healthy and inclusive society will be severely damaged. Rather than death to escape a painful death, it has become death to escape a painful life.
View Arif Virani Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Arif Virani Profile
2021-02-22 20:11 [p.4410]
Madam Speaker, in responding to the member opposite, I would simply point out that even following the Senate's study of this very important bill, we have seen a further widening of different views with respect to the aspect of persons with disabilities, including those with mental illness. The Senate is proposing amendments that would, in fact, enlarge what we feel is already a carefully tailored bill. Clearly there is a vast diversity of opinion here.
It expands eligibility for medical assistance in dying to persons experiencing intolerable suffering who are not at the end of life. It will also respect every person's individual choices on an issue of the utmost importance.
This bill also includes the safeguards that require a physician to give expert advice, an assessment period, the review of the cause of the suffering and all possible treatment options. I am convinced that only those who truly want to access medical assistance in dying will do so. Although I fully acknowledge the concerns of advocacy groups for persons with disabilities, I believe that we can permit—
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, I appreciate having this opportunity tonight to address the government's very irresponsible and dangerous legislation, Bill C-7. This is the government's effort to expand euthanasia and to remove many safeguards that people in the disability community, as well as experts, have said are vital.
The government prorogued Parliament limiting debate and now is rushing through this legislation. We are hearing many concerns from people across Canada and even from people in the government's own caucus. The member for Richmond Hill said he supports leaving in place the 10-day reflection period, but it is not just members. There are actually ministers who have concerns about the impact that the legislation will have on people with disabilities.
I want to read a quote from the minister whose responsibilities include disability inclusion. The minister said, “I absolutely acknowledge and am quite preoccupied by the power imbalance between practitioners and patients, particularly patients who have been in systems that have discriminated against them and ignored their voices their entire lives. I have grave concerns with the particular circumstances of the individual that you spoke of. Quite frankly, I can tell you, he is not alone.” The minister further said, “I regularly hear from families who are appalled by the fact that they take their child, potentially their older child, in and are offered unprovoked MAID. I think that has to stop.”
We are hearing concerns from people in the disability community, reflected by the minister, that already people with disabilities, when they are having interactions with the health care system, are getting proactively proposed and encouraged toward euthanasia. They are even told if they reject those pushes, they are being selfish. This is very concerning.
We have heard from the disability community how this bill would enshrine in law discrimination against people with disabilities. It would create a situation where a person without a disability who is experiencing suicidal ideation might be offered suicide prevention, but a person with a disability who presents with the same challenges and sense of existential angst would be offered suicide facilitation, and in fact, encouraged in the direction of euthanasia even if they have not asked for it.
Conservatives proposed reasonable, common-sense amendments to try to leave in safeguards. They are safeguards we know members of the government caucus would actually support if they were given the freedom to vote their real convictions on this.
We proposed amendments to leave in place a 10-day reflection period. That reflection period can already be waived, but as a default, we think a reflection period makes sense so that we do not have same-day death and we do not have people who make the request and die the same day. That is why a reflection period, which can be waived in certain circumstances but is provided as a default, is important.
We have proposed that people be asked on the day they receive euthanasia whether or not they want to go through with it. Right now with the mechanism for advance requests that the government has put in place, there is no requirement that patients would be consulted on the day they receive euthanasia.
We propose specifically an amendment that the Minister of Disability Inclusion seems to support, even if the Minister of Justice does not. It is an amendment that requires that it be the patient who brings it up, not the physician, so that someone does not go into the hospital, a person with a disability, and get told they should think about taking their life. If that conversation is going to happen, it has to be the patient who starts it.
These are reasonable, common-sense amendments and the government rejected 100% of the common-sense Conservative amendments. They were not just Conservative amendments. They were amendments put forward by experts, by people in the disability community and by people who have been ignored in the government's rush to move this forward after it prorogued Parliament.
This is an issue of life and death and of how we respect people living with disabilities, how we recognize and ought to affirm the value and dignity of all human life, and the fact that people living with disabilities ought not be pushed in one direction, which people who are able-bodied are not.
That is what is in front of us and I implore all members of Parliament to look at the details, consult their own conscience, consult their own constituents, maybe even talk to members of their own caucus who have concerns, and support common-sense—
View Darren Fisher Profile
Lib. (NS)
Madam Speaker, as members of the House well know, there are few issues as complex and as personal as medical assistance in dying. Medical assistance in dying forces us to reconcile many fundamental values: equality, respect for life and individual autonomy. We accept that reasonable people can disagree on the best way to achieve balance in respect of all the implicated interests and values.
As a government, we must make choices on behalf of Canadians that we believe are the right ones for each individual and for all of us collectively. Bill C-7 reflects our best assessment of sound policy that is constitutionally valid. We believe it is consistent with the views of most Canadians who participated in our consultation processes. We further believe it is responsive to many of the concerns and recommendations of numerous and varied experts whose opinions were shared in round tables, expert panel reports, academic articles and other sources.
We certainly know some members of the House believe the safeguards in the existing law reflect a more appropriate balance. We respect these differences of opinion. That is what we are here to do. We are all here to reflect the diversity of views of the Canadians we represent. However, we believe our chosen course of action is the correct one. It is the product of deep reflection and significant consultation, and puts the interests of each individual at the centre of their own medical choices.
We remain committed to the removal of the 10-day reflection period for persons whose death is reasonably foreseeable. We heard over and over again that this safeguard does not provide the protection it was intended to and that instead it aggravates these already difficult situations.
We are also committed to the proposal that would enable those whose death is reasonably foreseeable to make arrangements with their MAID provider for a waiver of final consent in the unfortunate eventuality that they lose their capacity to consent to MAID before the scheduled day. Without this change, some who are found eligible will choose to die sooner than they want, depriving themselves of precious remaining time with their families, rather than risk losing the option to die by their preferred manner of death.
While we understand the ethical and philosophical concerns with the idea of administering MAID to persons who are no longer able to consent, the practical reality of those who wish to spend a little more time with their families is of prime importance. Any expression of resistance would put a stop to the administration of MAID. This is clear in the bill. All that would be permitted is for the practitioner to carry out the person's own clear and precise wishes as to the date and manner of their death.
I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage my colleague to help us limit the unnecessary suffering of Canadians and help us ensure this important legislation receives royal assent prior to the December 18 court deadline.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, it is frustrating to hear that nonsense about consultation. Over a thousand physicians have signed a letter sounding the alarm about this. One hundred per cent of disability organizations that appeared before the committee raised serious concerns about the legislation, as written. The person in the federal cabinet charged with speaking up for Canadians with disabilities and ensuring their voices are heard, that minister, is being ignored in her concerns.
Forgive me for having a hard time accepting the parliamentary secretary's claim to have consulted when the government has not listened to any of the physicians, any of the disability rights organizations or its own minister responsible for these issues.
The member wants us to help relieve the unnecessary suffering of Canadians. I would be happy to help all day long on supplying good-quality palliative care and ensuring people with disabilities can live in dignity in this country, instead of this focus on death.
View Darren Fisher Profile
Lib. (NS)
Madam Speaker, I remain confident Bill C-7 is the right approach for Canada now. It would advance the interests of individual choice and autonomy in medical decision-making. If an individual determines for themselves that they are suffering intolerably and make a voluntary request for MAID as well as receive all the information they need to make an informed decision, including being offered alternative treatments and services, I believe we owe it to them to respect their decision.
At the same time, it would ensure requests from the newly eligible, whose death is not foreseeable, would be handled with great care and attention, with the input of experts and time to identify and explore other treatment options. We trust practitioners will do more than the minimum standards set out in the safeguards in all appropriate cases.
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