Compromise may help pass assisted-dying law

by Ryan Smith03 Jun 2016
A compromise Senate amendment may help assisted dying bill C-14 pass in the Red Chamber.
Health Minister Jane Philpott said an amendment that will require Parliament to study a possible expansion of eligibility beyond patients suffering a terminal illness may be on the horizon, CBC News reported.

“I would say whether they make an amendment or not, we’re going to study that,” Philpott said. “If it needs to be in the bill, then obviously we’ll take that into consideration… I think questions that come up repeatedly, we have a responsibility to respond to Canadians because they’re obviously questions Canadians have as well.”

Philpott made the comments during an appearance before the senate with federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould. Both ministers were there to urge senators to pass the bill by the June 6 deadline set by the Supreme Court, CBC News reported.

The Supreme Court ruled that it was a violation of the charter to deny a patient suffering a “grievous and irremediable condition” the right to die with the assistance of a doctor, CBC News reported. The court instructed the government to craft a law to regulate assisted dying.

But Bill C-14 restricted doctor-assisted dying to mentally competent adults with serious and incurable diseases or disabilities who are “suffering intolerably” and whose death is “reasonably foreseeable.” That restriction brought criticism from those who said patients who are suffering but whose death may not be imminent deserve the same consideration, CBC News reported.

Independent senator Frances Lankin sharply criticized the bill while questioning Wilson-Raybould. Lankin said that under C-14, two people suffering from the same disease could expect different outcomes based on their age. An older person, Lankin said, could be granted a speedy death, while a younger sufferer could expect years of pain.

“'There is something so fundamentally wrong and discriminatory in the application of this I wonder how you have rationalized through to defence,” Lankin said.

Wilson-Raybould defended the bill, saying that most countries that have assisted-dying laws restrict access to people whose deaths are already imminent.

Assisted dying bill voted through to Senate