Legislation & Resolutions
ways you can get involved:
March 16, 2023
Dear CWL Sisters,
Keeping up-to-date on the Federal government’s pause for Bill C-7, please read the following article from Erin Anderssen of the Globe and Mail dated March 7, 2023:
Doctors, disability advocates condemn parliamentary committee’s recommendation to expand MAID law
Published March 6, 2023
Updated March 7, 2023
Several dozen expert witnesses, including doctors, ethicist and disability advocates, are criticizing the parliamentary committee studying Canada’s euthanasia laws for recommending a wide expansion of assisted dying that includes mature minors and people with mental illness, without paying proper attention to the research on the potential risks.
In a public letter being released Tuesday, the 43 committee witnesses say the final report “misconstrues, misrepresents, minimizes, and completely ignores key evidence necessary to protect Canadians,” while “amplifying” those who favoured more wider access.
“The whole process was dismissive of the evidence,” said Leonie Herx, the chair of palliative medicine at Queen’s University, who was one of the committee’s witnesses, and a signatory to the letter.
In February, the majority members of the committee, which heard from nearly 150 witnesses over six months last year, recommended expanding medical assistance in dying to Canadians under 18, as well as allowing advance requests for people diagnosed with debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s, so they could receive MAID well into the future, even when they are no longer able to consent.
The committee’s majority report also supported MAID for patients with mental illness as the sole condition – a change that was supposed to automatically come into effect this month – until the federal government sought a one-year extension to allow for further study.
The Liberal government has made clear this is only a pause, and it supports expanding MAID to mental illness. In an Ottawa news conference Monday, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said that, if elected, his government would
repeal any law allowing MAID for mental illness.
Even as the government moves forward, expanding MAID to an increasingly wider group of patients continues to be a contentious and complex issue in the country. It has divided doctors, researchers and patient advocates and families – as well as the committee members themselves. (A dissenting report by Conservative members opposed further expansions to MAID, especially for young people.)
Public testimony before the committee was often tense and emotional, with many experts clearly frustrated at the short time they were given to respond to complicated questions from MPs and senators. In the letter, the witnesses say they felt the committee often ignored them or talked over them in favour of more pro-MAID testimony.
“Given how serious this matter is – literally one of life and death – one would expect a careful, thoughtful and diligent process that was based on fact,” says Dr. Herx, “and rooted in the first-hand experience and needs of those most impacted by MAID. It was not.”
The committee’s majority recommendations, if they were followed, would make
Canada’s euthanasia laws among the broadest in the world. The letter being sent to Parliament criticizes the report for not giving proper weight in its recommendations to issues around lack of health care resources, including palliative care, the need to protect vulnerable patients, and for not recommending important safeguards for minors such as a minimum age and parental involvement.
By being “activist,” and not “prudent,” the letter argues, the committee’s recommendations “introduce larger segments of the Canadian population to potential harms instead of supporting Canadians to live well and flourish.”
Several pieces of proposed legislation have already been introduced that would make amendments to the existing MAID law. In February, the Quebec government introduced legislation that would legalize advance requests for illnesses such as dementia. A private member’s bill, introduced by one of the Senators on the parliamentary committee, proposes to do the same federally. Meanwhile, Conservative MP’s private member’s bill would prevent MAID from being expanded to people with mental illness as a sole condition.
Given this new information, the Resolutions and Legislation Committee would like to urge all CWL Sisters to continue writing letters to our government representatives. Below is a new template supporting Bill C-314; to prohibit the extension of MAiD eligibility to Canadians with mental illness as the sole condition underlying their request. As well, please check out the Templates on the Diocesan CWL webpage as well as the Diocesan Blog. The more voices we can raise through the written word, the stronger our voices become!!
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister Carolyn Bennett, email@example.com
David Lametti, firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, email@example.com
The Honorable Ed Fast, Member of Parliament for Abbotsford, firstname.lastname@example.org
*** your MP*** using the appropriate stye of address
House of Commons,
Dear Prime Ministers, Ministers, and ***
I am writing to express my support for Bill C-314; to prohibit the extension of MAID eligibility to Canadians with mental illness as the sole condition underlying their request, this represents the view of a majority of Canadians and Expert Opinion.
The second report of the AMAD committee, MEDICAL ASSISTANCE IN DYING IN CANADA: CHOICES FOR CANADIANS, tabled on February 15 does not represent expert opinion, which is deeply divided on this issue. Dr Leonie Herx, the chair of palliative medicine at Queen’s University, commented “The whole process was dismissive of the evidence”
The Canadian Association of MAiD Assessors and Providers (CAMAP) has received $3.3 million from the government. CAMAP’s curriculum for MAiD providers instructs health care workers to bring up MAID unsolicited as a “professional obligation”. The curriculum describes MAID as a ‘medically effective treatment option’ and a ‘care option’. Two members of the Federal government’s Expert Panel on Medical Assistance in Dying and Mental Illness have resigned because of the Panel’s unwillingness to design adequate safeguards. The AMAD report does not represent expert opinion, nor that of the majority of Canadians.
This MAID ideology is not shared by any other jurisdiction in the world. Canada’s policy breaches the ethical standard that MAID should be considered a tragic last resort.
Dr Scott Kim, a psychiatrist and philosopher who served on the Council of Canadian Academies Expert Panel Working Group on MAID Where a Mental Disorder is the Sole Underlying Medical Condition has written eloquently on the ‘ideological capture’ of Canadian MAID policy as Orwellian cruelty, calling despair a ‘care option’.
RFND = Reasonably Foreseeable Natural Death
The alarming increase in Canadians without a reasonably foreseeable natural death seeking MAID, described as a medically effective care option, will only worsen if eligibility is expanded.
Please challenge the AMAD’s second report on MAID, and support Bill C314’s prohibition on extending MAID eligibility to Canadians whose sole underlying condition is mental illness.
Thank you for working to support the health care community as they provide compassionate end of life care to all Canadians,
***Include your name and address at the end of the email
Your postal code is very important as it shows that you are a
member of your MP’s constituency***