The Government of Canada has launched an online questionnaire providing Canadians with a portal to express their views on physician-assisted suicide in the country.
Open until January 27th, this public consultation questionnaire was launched ahead of a review of the Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) law this summer, in light of “the evolving views and needs of the Canadian public”.
The federal government decided to undertake this review after a Superior Court of Québec case last year which found that it was unconstitutional to only allow access to euthanasia to people when they are nearing the end of their life.
The case was brought forth by two people living with disabilities – Mr. Truchon who has lived with cerebral palsy since birth, and Ms. Gladu who has paralysis and severe scoliosis as a result of poliomyelitis.
Medical practitioners who assessed them found that they met all of the criteria for physician-assisted suicide, except that they were not nearing death.
When brought forth to the Superior Court of Québec, Justice Christine Baudouin declared that the criterion of “reasonable foreseeability of natural death” in the federal Criminal Code (and the “end-of-life” criterion in Quebec’s provincial law) as a barrier to accessing MAID was unconstitutional.
Barring an extension, this ruling will come into effect on March 11th, 2020 and only applies to Québec. Nevertheless the Government of Canada has accepted the judgment and committed to changing the MAID law at a federal level.
According to the government, over 6,700 people in Canada have chosen physician-assisted suicide since it was first legalized in June 2016.
“Canadians who are deciding whether they wish to receive medical assistance in dying are often experiencing prolonged suffering. Their situations are diverse, and extremely personal,” said health minister Patty Hajdu in a statement on January 13th.
“Accessing medical assistance to die raises questions about how a person’s autonomy to make this choice is respected while their safety is protected.”
Now, the federal government is preparing to launch a review of the law this summer after taking feedback from Canadians into account.
The questionnaire closes on Monday, January 27th at 11:59 p.m. PST. Click here to complete the survey.