Bill C-14: Legislation for medical assistance in dying
The Senate helped improve a new law that allows physicians and nurse practitioners to provide care and prescribe substances that help eligible individuals end their suffering.
In February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that criminal prohibitions on assisted dying violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Government responded with Bill C-14, legislation for medical assistance in dying. Adopted in the spring of 2016, the law allows physicians and nurse practitioners to provide care and prescribe substances that help eligible individuals end their suffering.
The Senate’s Role
Senator George Baker, a Senate Liberal (now retired), sponsored the bill in the Senate, raising important questions on the role of Senators in amending legislation passed by the House of Commons. (Watch his Power and Politics interview with Rosemary Barton here.)
Senators thoroughly and expeditiously reviewed Bill C-14, demonstrating to Canadians the Senate’s culture of debate and function of providing sober second thought. Ultimately, the Senate proposed a series of amendments to the bill, and the Government accepted some of its proposals.
As a result of the Senate’s work, and the Government’s response to those proposals, the final version of Bill C-14 included enhanced safeguards for recipients of medical assistance in dying, requirements for consultation between the provinces and the Minister of Health on death certificates, and a definitive timeline for the Minister of Health and the Minister of Justice to table thorough reports to Parliament after their reviews of the bill’s provisions.
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould tweeted: “C-14: Medical Assistance in Dying passed by Senate. Appreciate principled & thoughtful debate in both houses & w/ Canadians. Thank you.”