Government expected to table assisted-dying legislation Thursday
Published Wednesday, April 13, 2016 4:31AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, April 13, 2016 9:21PM EDT
The federal government is expected to introduce its long-awaited assisted suicide legislation on Thursday, three months after the Supreme Court granted Ottawa an extension to pass the new law.
The medically assisted dying legislation is not expected to include some of the most controversial recommendations made by a special parliamentary committee, including extending assisted suicide to “mature minors,” The Canadian Press has reported.
The law is expected to say that only competent adults should be allowed to receive a doctor’s help to end their lives, and will not include people with conditions such as dementia.
The legislation being tabled is in response to last year’s ruling by the Supreme Court, which concluded that the ban on assisted suicide violates the right to life, liberty and security of the person, as guaranteed in the charter.
The Supreme Court instructed the government to come up with a new law that offers clearly consenting adults who are enduring intolerable physical or mental suffering the choice to end their lives with assistance from medical professionals.
But critics say the law will put Canadians at risk unless there is adequate oversight.
“I’m concerned that (the government) is going to follow the similar model that exists in Belgium and the Netherlands where the whole system is designed by two doctors agreeing,” Alex Schadenberg, the executive director of Euthanasia Prevention Coalition told CTV News Channel.
Schadenberg said he and others concerned about the upcoming legislation want to see a third party involved in the assisted dying process, either in the form of a committee of medical professionals or a judge’s ruling in each case.
“We’re talking about life and death here,” he said. “So, when someone’s life is ended, we’d better be pretty sure that they were following at least a prescription and the law.”
Many other groups, including Canadian Physicians for Life, have also expressed concern and outrage about the upcoming legislation, saying that it will put vulnerable Canadians at risk.
Liberal MP Rob Oliphant, who co-chaired the special joint parliamentary committee on assisted dying, told The Canadian Press that it would be "smart and compassionate" if the federal government refers the new law to the Supreme Court to ensure that it complies with the charter of rights, as well as pre-empt any legal challenges.
With files from The Canadian Press and CTV News Channel