Bill C-7: The final stages

Curious where things stand with Bill C-7 and the proposed changes to our MAID legislation? Below is a summary of the progress on the bill and what we might expect next.

UPDATE: On Thursday March 11, 2021, Parliament passed an amended version of Bill C-7 which formed the government’s response to the amendments proposed by the Senate. For the current status of Bill C-7, click here.
Since December, we’ve watched Bill C-7 progress through 54 hours of hearings at the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee. The Committee listened to the testimony of 147 witnesses and reviewed over 80 written briefs, in addition to the work that committee members were doing behind the scenes. The Committee reported to the Senate on February 8, 2021 and debate began later that day. The Senate adopted the bill, with five amendments, on February 17.
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, as follows: 
  • 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; 
  • 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, 
  • 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. 

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. 

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

It’s not too late to remind your member of parliament (MP) that you support Bill C-7 and the changes to the assisted dying law. Click here to send a letter to your MP and help us ensure that the upcoming March 26 deadline is the final one for Bill C-7. 

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