Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs
Senate legal committee releases pre-study report on Bill C-7
December 10, 2020
Ottawa – The federal government’s bill to change Canada’s medical assistance in dying regime remains contentious as lawmakers, medical practitioners, advocacy groups and many others grapple with its profound legal and ethical implications, according to a Senate committee report released Thursday.
The Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs conducted a pre-study of Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), which is still being debated at third reading in the House of Commons. More than 80 witnesses shared their views with committee members over five packed days of hearings.
The committee’s report provides an overview of the main issues raised during the hearings. For example, disability advocates worried removing the legal requirement that a person’s natural death be “reasonably foreseeable” in order to qualify for medical assistance in dying would promote stigma against people with disabilities and imply that some lives are not worth living. Others argued that those experiencing irremediable and intolerable suffering should be allowed a medically assisted death to preserve their dignity and personal autonomy.
On September 11, 2019, Quebec Superior Court Justice Christine Baudouin ruled that restricting eligibility for medical assistance in dying to people whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The suspension of her declaration of invalidity was extended until December 18, 2020.
- The 81 witnesses who appeared before the committee included legal experts, medical practitioners, Indigenous representatives, mental health advocates, faith group representatives and caregivers. The Minister of Justice, Minister of Health and the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion also appeared.
- The committee has received and considered 86 written briefs to date.
- A resource page has been created to provide an overview of the bill’s progress through Parliament, links to relevant Senate proceedings and detailed summaries of the bill and the court decision that led to its creation.
- Read the report
- Follow the committee on social media using the hashtag #LCJC.
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