(Pixabay photo)

Feds launch consultation on who’s allowed to seek medically assisted death

Court ruled eligibility cannot be restricted to those whose natural death is ‘reasonably foreseeable’

The Trudeau government is launching public consultations on how best to respond to a court ruling that concluded it’s unconstitutional to allow only Canadians who are already near death to seek medical assistance to end their suffering.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the government accepts the Sept. 11 ruling of the Superior Court of Quebec and will amend the federal law accordingly.

But while the government has agreed to eliminate the near-death requirement, its consultation questionnaire suggests other hurdles could be imposed to ensure what it considers to be a balance between a person’s right to choose to end their life and protecting vulnerable individuals who could be pressured into an early death.

Under the court ruling, it has until March 11 to amend the law.

Canadians will have until Jan. 27 to offer their views on how the law should be amended through the online questionnaire being launched on Monday.

At the same time, Justice Minister David Lametti, Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough will be holding roundtables and meetings with stakeholders and other key actors.

The ruling came on the first day of the federal election campaign last fall.

Justice Christine Baudouin ruled that it is unconstitutional for the federal law to restrict eligibility for a medically assisted death to those whose natural death is “reasonably foreseeable.” She similarly said it’s unconstitutional for Quebec, which has its own assisted dying law, to limit eligibility to those who are at the “end of life.”

The ruling technically applies only in Quebec but, since the Trudeau government declined to appeal the decision, any amendments will apply across the country.

The federal law went into effect in June 2016, following a landmark Supreme Court of Canada ruling that struck down the previous prohibition on medical assistance in dying.

The online questionnaire asks people to consider what safeguards should be put in place to prevent abuse if the foreseeable death requirement is removed from the law.

Among other things, it asks people to consider whether:

— The current 10-day period of reflection between requesting and receiving a medically assisted death should be increased.

— The law should require that both the medical practitioner and patient agree that other reasonable treatments and options to relieve suffering have been tried without success.

— Mandatory psychological or psychiatric assessments should be required to determined capacity to consent.

— Mandatory consultation with an expert in a person’s medical condition should be required, in addition to the current mandatory two medical assessments.

READ MORE: Disability rights organization ‘distressed’ about medically assisted death at B.C. hospital

While the public consultations are aimed primarily at how to respond to the Quebec court ruling, they will also dip into broader issues that were excluded in the new law and which must be considered as part of a parliamentary review of the law that is to begin this summer.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ladysmith principal mourns family killed during US protests

Jelks says he’s grateful for the outpouring of support from the community in the wake of this tragedy

Considerations made to keep Crofton drive-by birthday celebrations going

Trucks will tone it down or not use horns at all to bring some joy to kids and older folks

COVID-19 birthday drive-by celebrations snuffed out in Crofton

Bylaw officer visit with threats of a fine mean parade trucks taken off the road

Long-awaited opening for Chemainus Public Market

All components not up and running just yet, but will be soon

Void of summer events going to be felt in Chemainus

CBIA cancels Classics Car Show and Canada Day celebrations

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

Murder charge upgraded in George Floyd case, 3 other cops charged

Floyd’s family and protesters have repeatedly called for criminal charges against all four officers

Police look for suspect after alleged assault at gas station in Nanaimo

Victim says he was punched in the head several times in late April at business in South Wellington

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Friendly Cove and Kyuquot will remain closed until further notice

Transition of other B.C. communities will be monitored before a decision to ease restrictions

Racist incident shocks Vancouver Island First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP investigating after video shows truck wheeling through Tseshaht territory

Gold River organizes a shop local initiative to creatively boost economy

Local purchases can earn shoppers $200 gift certificates to be spent on businesses within Gold River

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit was en route as whale broke free from prawn trap line

Most Read