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Results: 1 - 11 of 11
View Kevin Sorenson Profile
Mr. Speaker, this will be the last time I ever present a petition in the House. I want to thank you for your services as Chair.
I rise today to present a number of petitions on behalf of my colleague, my seatmate and my friend, the member for Langley—Aldergrove.
In the first, the petitioners call upon Parliament to enshrine in the Criminal Code the protection of conscience for physicians and health care institutions from coercion or intimidation to provide or refer for assisted suicide or euthanasia.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
View Kelly McCauley Profile
2019-04-12 12:11 [p.27056]
Mr. Speaker, as the former president of the Greater Victoria Eldercare Foundation, Vancouver Island's largest hospital foundation supporting seniors, I am very pleased to present petitions from several hundred constituents, as well as people across the country, calling on the government to establish a national strategy on palliative care.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2017-04-13 12:32 [p.10519]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present petitions signed by Canadians from Westlock in my riding.
These petitioners are concerned that assisted suicide creates new opportunities and occasions of abuse against seniors, disabled people, and other socially vulnerable people. As such, these petitioners are calling on the House of Commons to adopt the strongest possible legislation against the legalization of euthanasia and/or assisted suicide, and to establish a robust national strategy on palliative care.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2016-10-31 15:22 [p.6344]
Mr. Speaker, I am presenting today two petitions: one from northern Alberta, Grimshaw, Alberta; and one from people from across Ontario. I am pleased to present these petitions.
The petitioners are concerned about the accessibility and impact of violent and degrading sexually explicit material online and the impact on public health, especially the well-being of women and girls. As such, these petitioners are calling on the House of Commons to adopt Motion No. 47.
View Jim Eglinski Profile
View Jim Eglinski Profile
2016-10-28 12:10 [p.6285]
Madam Speaker, I wish to present two petitions, both dealing with palliative care.
They highlight the fact that the House of Commons in the last Parliament unanimously supported a motion calling on the government to create a national strategy on palliative care. Therefore, the petitioners are calling on this Parliament to carry on that work and to create a national strategy on palliative care to make sure that every Canadian has an opportunity to have high-quality palliative care at the end of his or her life.
View Rachael Harder Profile
View Rachael Harder Profile
2016-05-31 10:12 [p.3795]
Mr. Speaker, the other petition I present in the House today is a lengthy petition from members all across the province of Alberta, my home province.
The petitioners are coming forward with the Family Action Coalition with regard to Bill C-14. They are asking for stringent safeguards to be put in place on behalf of the vulnerable. They are asking for conscience protection for medical practitioners, and they are also calling on the government to consult widely with regard to Bill C-14.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Madam Speaker, it has been quite the day on the procedural front, but I appreciate the opportunity to get back to a subject that is too important to be waylaid by these sorts of things. I mentioned four substantive amendments that I proposed. These are amendments that I think all members should be able to take a serious look at, and hopefully many on the government side will even agree with them.
I will say very clearly the purpose of these amendments. These amendments would not restrict access to something which the Supreme Court has deemed that we must give access to. Indeed, these amendments would provide greater shape and substance to the value of autonomy, which is supposed to be the basis of this legislation. They would give meaning and effect to that. I will mention that three out of four of these amendments would not even change the eligibility criteria.
What do I mean when I say that they would give added substance to autonomy? For an individual to have autonomy and effectively express that autonomy, the individual needs to have information about the choices he or she is making. How can people make autonomous choices if they do not have information about which they are supposed to be making the choice? That needs to include information about the impacts of a choice, as well as the alternatives that are available. Autonomy also requires some opportunity or space for meaningful deliberation based on that information.
What I am asking for in three out of the four amendments would not even require a change to the eligibility criteria. It is simply protection of the value of autonomy, assurance that individuals get the information they need, assurance that people who do not consent do not get pushed into this, and assurance that people who do not meet the criteria will not have their lives taken. The court asked us to develop a system of safeguards that would ensure that people who are vulnerable are not put at risk, that people who do not consent do not lose their lives in a medical environment, that people still feel safe in a medical environment, that they do not have to worry about going to a hospital and losing their lives without consenting to it.
We need these safeguards in place, and these amendments would do the job that the court asked us to do. They would provide the safeguards and protect the autonomy of individuals involved. I hope that members will take a serious look at all four of these amendments.
The first one, Motion No. 3 on the Order Paper, says that prior to making the request, someone must have consulted a medical practitioner specifically regarding palliative care options and be informed of a full range of options. Now, this can be part of the pre-existing consultation with a physician. There is no need for this to require additional time. This consultation, as I mentioned in committee, could happen with someone over the phone. There is not even a need for a requirement for an in-person consultation.
I see this amendment as the minimum of the minimum, but it would require that people get information about palliative care options before they take part in euthanasia or assisted suicide, and that people who express interest in euthanasia or assisted suicide at least first have someone say, “There is an alternative. This is what the alternative looks like. This is what is available in your area. Now you can choose between that robust, well-explained alternative of palliative care or the option of physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia.”
I do not see why members would have any objection to this amendment. It would not add any hoops to jump through. It is simply an assurance that patients would receive information about their alternatives. Indeed, it cuts to the core of what autonomy is supposed to be about: people having the information to make meaningful, understood choices between different alternatives.
It is interesting to hear members talk about their personal experiences on this issue. People talk about pain having been totally unmanageable in a particular case. In fact, the pain may have actually been manageable, but the person did not get good information and did not have access to the palliative care or pain management they needed. It is always unfortunate when I hear that said, because this speaks to people not getting the information they need about palliative care and pain management.
Let us do the minimum with that amendment. Let us make sure that people get information about palliative care options. I do not think that is too much to ask, and it would show the goodwill of the House to look at an amendment like that in a serious way.
My second amendment, Motion No. 7 on the Order Paper, would add a requirement of imminent natural death. This is the only one of my four amendments that would inform the eligibility criteria, but it is an important change. The phrase “reasonably foreseeable” is, of course, very ambiguous language. The use of the word “terminal” provides some greater degree of clarity.
This is very much constitutional. We have the right as Parliament to define the contours of an exception to the Criminal Code. As the justice minister herself has said, identifying the purpose of the law can alter the charter interpretation, and courts have said they would show deference. There is a need to proceed conservatively at the outset on an issue like this, and there is always the opportunity to study going further.
Most Canadians, when they think about this issue, are thinking in terms of terminal. This is consistent with the Quebec experience. There were seven years of study and a great deal of deliberation in the Quebec context. The conclusion, after much debate there, was that “terminal” was the best way to go. We would be unwise in a few months to rush to a very different conclusion than Quebec made after years and years of deliberation, or at least to go in a further direction than it did, because it had much more time to think about it.
Describing this legislation in a clearly terminal context provides greater protection from the concerns that the member for Winnipeg Centre and others have raised about this leading to some degree of suicide contagion. If we clearly define the legislation as applying to a limited population in a limited situation, we would have to worry relatively less so about how this may lead to some degree of suicide contagion in the rest of society.
I hope members will take a good look at that amendment as well.
The third amendment I am proposing is on the Order Paper as No. 12. It is a requirement for self-administration in cases where an individual is able to self-administer. This means that assisted suicide would be the default, as opposed to euthanasia, in the event that an individual is able.
This does not limit anyone's access to euthanasia or assisted suicide. Everyone who had access before the amendment would have access after it. However it ensures contemporaneous consent. It means that an individual who is seeking this service is consenting at the moment that they do it, and that there is no better way of doing it. This, again, adds substance to the idea of autonomy. It makes for good individual rationality in terms of the individual making the decision and doing it to themselves right at that moment.
This is a good safeguard in terms of ensuring contemporaneous consent, but it also has other benefits. It has the potential to help address the access issue. Doctors, in some cases, may be more comfortable assisting than they would be in actually providing. That is a safeguard that provides some additional benefits as well. There are no negative access implications. There is no harm in that provision.
The final amendment that I proposed is around advance review. The bottom line is that the so-called safeguards in the legislation are no good unless someone is checking. We have a requirement for two doctors and two witnesses, but a person could shop around. These four people could be anyone. They could be the same four people approving it for different Canadians across the country.
Therefore, I have put forward a proposal for a relatively minimal advance review process. It would be up to the provinces to designate that process. They could simply say that a lawyer has to sign off that the legal criteria were met, or they could have a judge do it. There are provisions for the provinces to have a choice within that context. However, there has to be an advance review. There has to be someone checking. If no one is checking, what good are the safeguards? What is the point of having any requirement at all if we do not have someone with the legal competency to understand what those safeguards are and to compare those safeguards to a situation? This is a complex legal situation. It requires some kind of competent legal authority.
The four amendments are modest amendments. They are surgical. They protect the value of autonomy. I hope all members, including members of the government, will take a serious look at them and give their support to them.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2016-05-03 20:29 [p.2824]
Madam Speaker, I am thankful to have this opportunity to speak on Bill C-14, an act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other acts.
Assisted suicide is a grave matter and has serious implications for all society, in the short term and in the long term. Based on the experiences of countries like the Netherlands and Belgium, which have legalized assisted suicide, we can know with great certainty that vulnerable populations, such as seniors, youth, and those who struggle with mental illness, will inevitably be put at risk.
Legalization of assisted suicide has also greatly undermined the public trust in the medical system in these countries. That is why I am opposed to legalizing assisted suicide.
Bill C-14, in its current form, leaves segments of society vulnerable and provides no protection for professionals or institutions, and undermines the credibility of our health care system and the important work that health care providers do to help people live.
I urge members to take great care with this legislation and to weigh every word to ensure that our most vulnerable people are never placed at risk.
In the past, this House has debated capital punishment, another means in which to take a person's life. Capital punishment was rejected, in part because the risk of ending one innocent life was one life too many. Should that same principle not guide us in our debate today?
Ray Pennings, co-founder of Cardus, recently expressed the importance of this in an editorial, writing:
While every word in a legal definition matters, the language of this debate matters in a broader setting. How do we as a society understand personal autonomy and the taking of one's life? How do we distinguish between a group of teenagers on an aboriginal reserve entering into a suicide pact, after deciding that life is not worth living, from citizens with a terminal diagnosis, fearing they've become a burden to their families and society, who similarly decide that death is preferable to life?
The debate is hardly new, but there are distinctions that can be made which require care and a precision of language. It is concerning that the utilization of language is heading in the opposite direction.
Mr. Pennings goes on to demonstrate this shift in the two Supreme Court of Canada cases. In the 1991 Rodriguez decision, which upheld the prohibition against assisted suicide, the term “assisted suicide” was used 92 times. However, in the 2015 Carter decision, in which the Court came to an opposite conclusion, the term “assisted suicide” was used only 23 times, while the term “assisted death” was used 24 times.
When we look at the current legislation before us, we see that the term “assisted suicide” does not appear at all, the term “suicide” appears only seven times, and the phrase “medical assistance in dying” is used 72 times.
In 20 years, we have progressed from recognizing the value and dignity of life and making every effort to discourage people from suicide, to now offering assisted suicide as a form of health care and calling it “medical assistance in dying.”
While I find many parts of Bill C-14 alarming, I want to start with this shift in the language. It is misleading to use “medical assistance in dying” in the context in which this bill does. Medical assistance in dying is not helping people choose to end their lives. Medical assistance in dying is what the medical community calls palliative care or hospice care.
As Canadians, we are blessed to live in a country that has a great health care system, with many physicians who care deeply about helping their patients live fulfilling and healthy lives. When circumstances change and patients are facing an incurable deadly disease, these same doctors use their medical knowledge to relieve pain and suffering through end-of-life care. This is real medical assistance in death.
That is why I believe amendments are necessary to correct the hijacking of real health care. First, Bill C-14 should be amended to replace “medical assistance in dying” with simply “assistance in dying”. This would separate assisted suicide from health care.
Second, to complement the removal of medical terms from Bill C-14, I recommend amendments that allow for licences to be given to individuals through the Department of Justice that allow them to assist others in ending their life. This would eliminate the requirement of the medical community to be involved, as well as any concerns around the conscience rights of doctors. Licensed individuals, including doctors who wish to participate, could assist in the assisted suicide process and allow our health system to remain focused on its primary objective of providing health care to all Canadians.
Third, I believe the eligibility for assisted suicide in Bill C-14 must require that individuals seeking assisted suicide first be provided with counselling or psychological services and a legal judicial review.
There are a number of amendments that I believe are also critical for the bill, but many of them have already been raised by my colleagues. I want to return to what is truly at the heart of this debate; that is, protecting vulnerable members of our society and reducing the suffering of those who are dying.
This has been raised by many members from all sides of the House. Helping people die with dignity is not, and never will be, achieved through legislation of assisted suicide. Rather, helping die well can only be achieved through improving our focus upon palliative care. Every Canadian has the right to quality health care, and this includes high-quality palliative care.
That is why I have seconded a motion on palliative care tabled by my NDP colleague, the member for Timmins—James Bay. This member has pointed out often that there has been no real commitment by the government to palliative care.
I was recently moved by a comment from my colleague in the other House, Senator Betty Unger, a registered nurse, who wrote:
Access to palliative care is as much a Charter right as access to physician-assisted dying.... [M]ost people will acknowledge that there is something terribly wrong when a government does more to guarantee that the living can die, than to ensure that the dying can live.
I would call upon the government to demonstrate that it views palliative care as much as a charter right as assisted suicide.
Assisted suicide and euthanasia is one of the issues that influenced my decision to run as a member of Parliament. It is an issue that also concerns many of my constituents.
Earlier this year, I sent out a survey to my constituents on assisted suicide and euthanasia. Over 92% of my constituents responded that they were opposed to assisted suicide being available to children. The vast majority also took the time to express they opposed assisted suicide for all people, not just children.
My constituents also expressed concern that doctors must be given conscience protection, including Michelle, who wrote, “Doctors take an oath to save lives, they should not be asked to end them by patients or families' choice”.
Opposition to assisted suicide in my riding also crossed party lines. Amy wrote me, “As a Liberal supporter, I feel torn on these issues. I can understand both sides. However...this issue seems almost equivalent to legal murdering”.
On the issue of pain and suffering, Maggie wrote to me, “Having seen friends and family make decisions in the midst of pain and weariness, and having been through deep depression and weariness of emotional pain; I know that clear good decisions are never made in the valleys of life. I've come through wanting to end my life and experienced more joy than I [ever] thought...possible”.
My constituents also include 14 first nation communities in northern Alberta. During the special joint committee hearings earlier this year, Dr. Alika Lafontaine, who is the president of the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada and who also works throughout northern Alberta, said:
What we are pleading for in indigenous communities is not medically assisted dying. That already exists in more ways that can be counted. What we are pleading for is medically assisted life.
Indigenous physicians want to help indigenous people live, not die.
Dr. Lafontaine also expressed that there have not been “meaningful consultations with indigenous peoples” and that “the effects of creating a literal program where patients intentionally die within the medical system will further disengage and disenfranchise indigenous patients and families”.
Earlier this year, I asked the Minister of Health about the consultations, and she admitted that the Liberal government did not consult directly with indigenous organizations on assisted suicide legislation.
Indigenous leaders tell me, “Nothing about us without us”.
I am deeply concerned about the impacts that legalizing assisted suicide would have on the indigenous communities.
Finally, the topic of suffering is often raised when discussing suicide. The argument is made that assisted suicide should be made available to all who suffer, even children. Proponents will argue that life with pain and suffering is undignified life and, therefore, assisted suicide should be available to anyone suffering pain.
I could not disagree more. People's dignity is not tied to their circumstances, but comes from the very fact that they are human.
More important, our health care providers are incredibly talented at helping patients manage pain. Even when it comes to children in palliative care, doctors are not—I repeat, not—seeking assisted suicide as a solution.
Dr. Stephen Liben, director of the Montreal Children's Hospital's pediatric palliative care program, said:
There aren’t these children that are asking to please die now. It never happens.... The last thing I need as a palliative care physician for children is a euthanasia law—the last thing....
This would not be an extra tool for relieving suffering at all, it would only muddy the waters and make things more confusing.
I cannot support Bill C-14 at this time, but should significant amendments be made in the protection of conscience rights of health care workers and the removal of health care references, I would consider support.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2016-05-03 20:41 [p.2826]
Madam Speaker, the member failed to recognize that the point I was trying to make is that language matters and the specific terms we use matter. She suggested that there are two different aspects to this law that we are addressing, and I will admit, I only went after the one, assisted suicide. The other term that is referenced in the law is euthanasia. I did not bring that up nearly as often. Those are the two terms she referenced. Even in the definition within the law, neither of those terms come up. It was either self-administered or a dosage administered by a health care professional.
The point of my speech was to ask, in 20 years, where has the discussion gone? We have moved along and the language has changed.
I address schools in my riding. I have been participating in a group called CIVIX. They set up something that they call meet your local elected official. When I address schools, I say that in the past when a person got up on a bridge, we told the person to come down because the individual's life had value, and now we are saying we can give them a push.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Mr. Speaker, this bill makes it possible for a person to ask a doctor for help committing suicide. If the doctor refuses because the person does not meet the criteria, that person can go to plenty of other doctors to get help.
Does the member agree that we need some rules around that practice of going from doctor to doctor?
View Rachael Harder Profile
View Rachael Harder Profile
2015-12-11 11:52 [p.302]
Mr. Speaker, the government has only a short period of time to respond to the Supreme Court's deadline on assisted suicide.
While consulting with individuals and organizations within my riding and from across the country, the community of persons with disabilities has expressed to me that it is very concerned. Specifically, it wants to know that the most vulnerable among us will be protected.
On behalf of all Canadians with disabilities, how will the minister ensure the right to choose life will be protected for those who have a disability?
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