Urgent action required: resist expanded access to MAID

The government is asking Canadians their views on safeguards for medical assistance in dying (MAID). Whether Canadians support safeguards or not will have an impact on what the government includes in new legislation on MAID, which is expected very soon.

The federal government has opened a two-week online consultation on expanding eligibility for medical assistance in dying (MAID). The consultation will close on January 27. Federal cabinet ministers are also holding in-person discussions with experts across the country.

The Prime Minister has instructed the Justice Minister to respond to a recent Quebec court ruling on the MAID framework, which struck down the requirement that a patient’s death be reasonably foreseeable in order to be eligible for MAID.

The government decided not to appeal this decision to a higher court. Its decision to apply the Quebec ruling across the country is prompting the government to ask for feedback on other changes to the legislation.

The court gave the government six months to rewrite the legislation, until March 11, 2020. When the decision takes effect, it will change the way the federal MAID law is interpreted and applied in Quebec.

It seems likely that the government will introduce a bill to expand access to MAID and to remove certain safeguards.

Minister of Justice David Lametti said:

Medical assistance in dying is a profoundly complex and personal issue for many Canadians across the country. (…) The consultations we are launching today will allow us to hear directly from Canadians and guide the path forward.

The EFC opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide, and advocates for the strongest possible safeguards and limited eligibility in any government legislation. Further, the EFC shares the deep concern of Canadians with disabilities, that they may become more vulnerable to pressure to end their lives if critical safeguards are removed.

This is the time when your input can have the most impact.

Because the two-week consultation period will conclude before Parliament resumes, it is important to communicate your concerns directly to the Minister of Justice.

Two things you can do

1. Write to the minister of justice

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) has prepared a sample letter you can use to express your deep concerns with the expansion of eligibility to MAID, available as pdf and as docx.

2. Complete the online consultation

This online consultation assumes that the law no longer requires that a person’s death be ‘reasonably foreseeable’ in order to be eligible for MAID. We share the deep concerns of many Canadians with disabilities that they will face more pressure to end their lives through MAID if it is not restricted to those at the end of life. We are also concerned that removing the end of life requirement may expand access to people whose only medical condition is psychological illness.

The consultation asks specifically about advance requests for MAID. We believe that the requirement that a patient be able to consent at the time of MAID is a critical safeguard against abuse and involuntary euthanasia.

For those who share our concerns, we believe this is a life-affirming way to fill out the survey:

  • Section C:
    • In question 1, responding “no,” the current safeguards wouldn’t prevent abuse of MAID.
    • In question 2, describing all of the safeguards listed as “very important.”
    • In the comment section, indicating that it is critical to have an end of life criterion for MAID in order to protect vulnerable Canadians.
  • Section D
    • In questions 1 and 2, responding “no,” that MAID should not be allowed in the scenarios described.
    • In section 3, indicating that the ability to consent at the time of MAID is a critical protection against abuse and involuntary euthanasia.
  • In section E’s comment box, indicating again that it is critical to maintain an end of life criterion for MAID eligibility.

Resources

  • Backgrounder to the EFC’s submission to the CCA Expert Panel on Medical Assistance in Dying
  • Submission of the EFC to the Council of Canadian Academies on Medical Assistance in Dying
  • EFC Briefing Notes on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide
  • Open Letter from 65+ Disability Ally Organizations on the Truchon/Gladu Decision
  • Open Letter from Physicians calling for an Appeal of the Truchon/Gladu Decision
  • The Vulnerable Persons Standard, a series of evidence-based safeguards developed by leading scholars in ethics, law, disability and public policy
  • And don’t miss the EFC’s great new engagement kit for tips on contacting your MP.
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Here are a couple of other useful links related to the issue:

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