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Canada: new update on Bill C-7 and Truchon deadline

On February 19, the Attorney General of Canada filed a motion to request an additional extension, until March 26, of the Superior Court of Québec’s September 2019 Truchon ruling concerning Canada’s medical assistance in dying (MAID) law. The extension was granted.

The following week, on February 23, Minister Lametti shared the government’s response to the Senate. That response included three amendments, based on the Senate’s suggestions of a month ago, as follows:

  1. A 24-month sunset clause on the Bill’s explicit prohibition on medical assistance in dying (MAID) for those with a mental illness, allowing time for an independent review by experts respecting recommended protocols, guidance and safeguards to apply to requests for MAID made by those with a mental illness;
  2. Completion of a Parliamentary review by a Joint Committee that addresses advance requests, mental illness, mature minors, the state of palliative care in Canada and the protection of Canadians with disabilities; and,
  3. Expanded data collection and analysis that respects race or indigenous identity and disability for the purposes of determining the presence of any inequalities or disadvantages based on these or other characteristics in medical assistance in dying.
Reaction of DWD Canada

Dying With Dignity Canada (DWDC) is pleased to see the thoughtful consideration of the Senate’s amendments and the amendments put forward by the government. While the Senate also put forward an amendment that proposed the addition of advance requests, it was not accepted by the Government, who indicated that this was a change that went beyond the scope of the bill. The commitment to begin a parliamentary review by a Joint Committee within 30 days of the Bill receiving Royal Assent is seen as a positive one. The committee must report on their review no more than one year after it begins.

DWD Canada continues to remind all Parliamentarians that Canadians support Bill C-7’s removal of the criterion that one’s death be reasonably foreseeable, and the inclusion of the right to waive final consent for individuals near death. DWDC recently shared the results of an annual national survey conducted by Ipsos, which found an overwhelming majority of Canadians support access to medical assistance in dying and Bill C-7.

What’s next?

Progress in the House of Commons has been slow to date. Debate will resume next week when the House returns.