Senate debates medical assistance in dying bill
Senator Chantal Petitclerc is sponsoring the legislation in the Senate.
Legislation that increases eligibility to medical assistance in dying while also reinforcing safeguards to access advanced to second reading in the Senate.
Bill C-7 comes in response to a Superior Court of Québec decision, which struck down as unconstitutional the requirement that death must be reasonably foreseeable in order to be eligible for medical assistance in dying.
The legislation presents a major change to the medical assistance in dying system, “a change fuelled by compassion and the right to a dignified end of life,” said Senator Chantal Petitclerc, who is sponsoring Bill C-7 in the Senate, during her second reading speech.
“What drives my passion to seriously and thoroughly study Bill C-7 is the deep knowledge that right now, individuals outside Quebec are waiting for us to pass this bill, suffering unbearable and irremediable pain. How many of these individuals does it take to make it crucial? For me, one is too many. And already, a number of persons whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable, who are suffering unbearably, who have tried everything and who wished to have access to medical assistance in dying have had to obtain this right from the Superior Court of Quebec,” she said.
“These people are not statistics. Their names are Lise, Lorraine, Ghislaine, Giselyne, Céline. Just last Thursday, December 10, Guy Labbé, who is living with Parkinson’s disease and is in excruciating pain, was forced to turn to the courts. He finally obtained an order authorizing him to receive medical assistance in dying.”
Read Senator Petitclerc’s full speech here.
The Senate began its study of Bill C-7 in November, even as the legislation was still before the House of Commons.
Known as a pre-study, the procedure allows the subject matter of a bill to be referred to a Senate committee for review before the legislation arrives in the Senate – giving Senators the opportunity to get a head-start on examining the principle and policy of the legislation.
The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs tabled its report on the subject matter of the bill on December 10, after hearing from 81 witnesses – including the Ministers of Justice, Health, and Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion; people living with disabilities; legal and medical practitioners; Indigenous representatives; faith groups; advocacy groups; and regulatory authorities – over five days.