October 5, 2020 – Ottawa – Department of Justice Canada
Medical assistance in dying (MAID) is a complex and deeply personal issue.
Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, and the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, reintroduced proposed changes to Canada’s Criminal Code provisions on MAID. These changes are the same as those proposed by Bill C-7 in the previous parliamentary session.
The reintroduced Bill proposes to:
- remove the requirement for a person’s natural death to be reasonably foreseeable in order to be eligible for MAID
- introduce a two-track approach to procedural safeguards based on whether or not a person’s natural death is reasonably foreseeable
- existing safeguards will be maintained and certain ones will be eased for eligible persons whose death is reasonably foreseeable
- new and modified safeguards will be introduced for eligible persons whose death is not reasonably foreseeable
- exclude eligibility for individuals suffering solely from mental illness
- allow the waiver of final consent for eligible persons whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable and who may lose capacity to consent before MAID can be provided
- expand data collection through the federal monitoring regime to provide a more complete picture of MAID in Canada
The proposed amendments would respond to the Superior Court of Québec’s September 2019 Truchon decision by expanding eligibility for MAID to individuals whose death is not reasonably foreseeable. In cases where a person’s death is not reasonably foreseeable, the amended procedural safeguards would require practitioners to take appropriate steps to ensure that the request for MAID is fully informed and considered, and that individuals making the request have given serious consideration to reasonable and available treatment options.
The Bill reflects emerging societal consensus and was informed by views and concerns raised by Canadians, experts, practitioners, stakeholders, Indigenous groups, as well as provinces and territories during the public consultations undertaken in January and February 2020 . It is also informed by the past four years of experience with MAID in Canada.
If passed by Parliament, the Government of Canada would continue to work closely with provinces and territories, health system partners, and health practice regulatory bodies to support the implementation of the proposed changes to the legislation. This includes the development of monitoring, reporting, best practices, and guidance for the MAID regime. In addition, the federal government will work with provincial and territorial partners to enhance disability support.
Other important questions relating to MAID in Canada—such as advance requests for persons newly diagnosed with a condition that could affect their decision-making capacity in the future, eligibility for persons suffering solely from mental illness and eligibility for mature minors—could be considered during a broader parliamentary review of MAID legislation, as required by the original legislation passed in 2016.