Bill C-7 was passed into law, receiving Royal Assent on March 17th, 2021, a shameful day for Canada.

Even a group of United Nations experts objected to the proposed legislation writing, “Disability should never be a justification to end someone’s life directly or indirectly.”

“Such legislative provisions would institutionalize and legally authorize ableism, and directly violate Article 10 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which requires States to ensure that persons with disabilities can effectively enjoy their inherent right to life on an equal basis with others." (See Macleans article here)

Many of our supporters took the time to register their objections with their local Members of Parliament, and with Senators, and much was done on the part of doctors and others to articulate why this legislations is so dangerous.

How has the law been altered to further promote the killing of patients in Canadians?

  • The requirement that death must be 'reasonably foreseeable' even for the disabled, has been removed.

  • A doctor or nurse practitioner can now lethally inject a person who cannot consent, if that person was previously approved for MAiD via advanced directive.

  • The ten-day waiting period has been removed when a person is diagnosed as “terminally ill,” allowing for 'same-day death.'
  • Conversely, if a patient is not 'terminally ill' they can still receive MAiD after a waiting period of 90 days. This includes people who have physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable to them and which cannot be relieved in a way that the person deems acceptable.

  • The number of witnesses has gone from two to one, and that one witness can be connected to the care of the person.
  • Eligibility for people suffering solely from mental illness is temporarily excluded until March 17, 2023 while 'experts' review and make recommendations on protocols and 'safeguards'. 

LifeCanada submitted a brief to the House Committee on this issue and we put together talking points that elucidate some of the serious problems with this law.

Talking Points:

  • Euthanasia for the mentally ill poses a grave concern, especially for psychiatrists and those advocating for suicide prevention. It represents a paradigm shift in how we view care for the mentally ill. Treatment for mental health issues may take months or years. Suicide should not be an option. 
  • Conscience rights protections for medical professionals is also of concern. This issue appeared to suddenly be dropped from the Bill debate. The Ontario Medical Association sent a formal request to the Senate on Feb. 3, 2021 asking that the Bill be amended to include conscience rights protection for medical professionals. No such amendment was added.
  • In Belgium and the Netherlands where euthanasia has been legal for many years, advanced directives have resulted in disturbing cases. E.g., In one situation, a Dutch doctor asked a family member of a woman with dementia to hold her down to be euthanized because the woman had given prior consent to euthanasia and was fighting back. 
  • Canada has instituted MAiD in a very short space of time. A full 5 year review following legalization in 2016 was supposed to be conducted. That review is not even complete and Canada is already drastically easing restrictions.
  • Concerns have arisen about those who have had loved ones die of MAiD and the trauma they experienced.
  • In the Senate Committee hearings on Bill C-7, witness Dr. Joel Zivot, an anesthesiologist, gave his expert testimony that MAiD had the potential for being a 'very painful death akin to drowning' and that "It is time to accept what the evidence available to date shows: MAiD may very likely provide a torturous death." Dr. Zivot explained that the administration of a paralytic prior to the lethal injection gave the appearance of a peaceful death, but subsequent autopsies revealed the presence of 'frothy fluid' in the lungs suggesting the patient may, in fact, have been suffering acutely but unable to express it. 

We also gathered some of the best articles and reading on this issue and made them available here.

While we are disheartened and very concerned about this law, we are never-the-less going to continue to fight for patients' rights and for physicians who object to this legislation. Conscience rights are essential and must be protected.

MP Kelly Block has sponsored Private Members Bill C-268: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (intimidation of health care professionals) cited as the Protection of Freedom of Conscience Act. 

We are concerned that medical professionals who oppose MAiD will continue to suffer discrimination and intense intimidation in the work place. In Ontario, the College of Physicians and Surgeons require physicians to make an effective referral, which is ethically synonymous with the act of euthanasia itself. 

Already there are petitions in support of Bill C-268 (click here to sign the petition).

LifeCanada will provide further education on this issue and talking points for you to contact your Member of Parliament.

In the coming weeks we will roll out a strategy to help support efforts for conscience protection for physicians. We hope that you will join us, and continue to feel engaged. We cannot afford to be dejected by this immense loss. We must continue to 'the good fight' and know that the final battle is already won.

Please continue to support us with your efforts and stay tuned for more information.