“Disability should never be a justification to end someone’s life directly or indirectly,” wrote a group of UN experts in a statement.

“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."

You can read more about this in the Macleans article here.

Bill C-7 Updates

The Senate has made two very disturbing amendments to Bill C-7. These amendments have now gone back to be voted on in the House, which happens THIS WEEK!

Read the Senate Committee Report here: https://sencanada.ca/en/committees/report/90681/43-2

What does Bill C-7 include?

Dec. 2020: Bill C-7 passed the House of Commons and was sent to the Senate for 'review'. The Bill included the following:

·        Euthanasia for those whose deaths are not ‘reasonably foreseeable’ including the disabled. Every disability rights group in Canada was opposed.

·        Included ‘psychological suffering’ as a reason for MAiD, though the claim was that people with mental illness would not be affected.

·        Allowed for euthanasia without consent if the person had already made the request for MAiD but subsequently lost the capacity to consent.  (The Supreme Court has previously ruled that only ‘competent’ individuals can be euthanized.)

·        Waived 10 day waiting period between time of request and MAiD for those whose death is reasonably foreseeable. This doesn’t allow time for people to change their minds. Allowed a 90 day waiting period for those whose death is not reasonably foreseeable. 

Senate amendments include: 

 1.      An 18 month ‘sunset clause’ amendment which goes even further than the Bill, allowing for euthanasia of the mentally ill.

 2.      An amendment to allow MDs and nurse practitioners to euthanize anyone who had made an advanced directive (pre-authorized consent) even if they did not request it or no longer consented. This includes those with degenerative neurocognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

 Feb. 17, 2021:

Senate voted in favour of the Bill with amendments. It now returns to the House of Commons for approval of amendments.

Feb 26, 2021:

Deadline given by QC Superior Court for federal legislators to come up with legislation since former law was said to violate Charter rights of those whose deaths were not reasonably foreseeable.

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 distrubing 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. 

Action Items for Bill C-7

  1. Contact your MP and MPP 
  2. Complete the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario survey here
  3. Share LifeCanada E-News on Bill C-7 with friends and family. Subscribe here
  4. Share the articles below on social media

Recommended Reading

LifeCanada articles and brief

Article by Dr. John Maher on MAiD and mental illness

Article on MAiD and Physicians' Standard of Care

Patients need improved resources, not MAiD

MDs speak out against MAiD and Bill C-7 here

Maclean's article, Taking MAiD Way Too Far

Dr.s Thomas Bouchard and Ramona Coelho write in the Ottawa Citizen:

"Medicine is not a department store. Our role is not to check the storeroom to see if we have the display item you like in the size and colour you desire."

Dr.s Tang and McGuinty write "Current pressure to remove the exclusion of mental illness as a sole eligibility criterion in Bill C-7 would make suicide prevention methods ineffective for individuals over the age of 18 who are contemplating suicide and suffering solely from psychological distress". Read the article here.

Read LifeCanada's Brief that clearly outlines the problems with this legislation and its repercussions HERE.

Watch and share these excellent testimonies of physicians fighting for the rights of Canadians HERE.