Update: Bill C-14, introduced in spring 2016 by the Liberals to legalize doctor-assisted dying, was supported on the third reading 186-137, with most Liberals in favour and most opposition MPs opposed, although 19 Conservatives supported it.
Here is a letter from CUSJ President Margaret Rao, urging amendments to the bill.
Unitarians have been on the forefront of the struggle for the right to die with dignity in Canada for decades. The Supreme Court win in Carter v Canada last year, and court-imposed deadline of June 2016 for Parliament to pass a law, means we are close to victory: for the first time ever, medical assistance in dying may soon be legal across Canada!
Unfortunately, the Government’s answer, Bill C-14, will not ensure that all Canadians have the right they have fought so long for – unless it is changed. Those who suffer with irremediable chronic conditions which are not necessarily immediately terminal such as ALS, Multiple Sclerosis, or Huntington’s Disease will not be allowed the right to seek an end to their suffering. Canadians with degenerative conditions, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, won’t be able to receive medical assistance in dying either…even if they ask for it in an advance care directive. And vague language in the bill means medical personnel could block even a terminally ill person from their right to a dignified end. This isn’t what the Supreme Court asked for.
We can do better. Bill C-14 can be amended over the next few weeks; we need your help to write or meet your Member of Parliament now, before this faulty legislation is passed as-is.
Call or meet your MP this week.
Your Member of Parliament has only one chance to help improve C-14 before it is passed later this month. Find your MP here and contact them today to request a short meeting. CUSJ has made a 3-page Lobby Kit on Medically-Assisted Dying that you can download and print to take with you to the meeting. Ask that your MP support amendments to the bill so that both the word and spirit of the Supreme Court’s rulings are embodied in the new law.
Download the CUSJ Lobby Kit Medical-Assisted dying Now at cusj.org
Let’s not stumble at the finish line. A Parliamentary committee is meeting this week to consider amendments to C-14, and further changes could be made at the final vote in just a couple of weeks. MPs across Canada have to hear from constituents like you, right now, if they are to make the necessary changes.
I thank you for helping to ensure that we build a compassionate, caring society that values the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
Standing on the side of love & justice,
President, Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice