Dying With Dignity Canada urges the Senate to hold firm on amendment to Bill C-14’s eligibility criteria

Dying With Dignity Canada is urging Canadian senators to hold firm in their commitment to making Bill C-14, the federal assisted dying bill, comply with the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Carter v. Canada.

Last week, the Senate voted in favour of an amendment that would replace Bill C-14’s overly restrictive eligibility criteria — which would limit access to assisted dying to only those Canadians whose “natural death is reasonably foreseeable” — with language from the Supreme Court’s Carter ruling. However, despite ongoing questions over the constitutionality of their version of the bill, the federal Liberals have refused to table the Senate amendment, which would have brought the legislation into compliance with the Charter.

The leading organization helping desperately ill Canadians avoid unwanted, unnecessary suffering, Dying With Dignity Canada (DWDC) is calling on the Senate not to pass Bill C-14 unless the House agrees to change the legislation’s eligibility criteria.

“The Senate must hold firm and ensure that this historic piece of legislation complies with both the Carter decision and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” said DWDC CEO Shanaaz Gokool. “It is simply unconscionable to force people like Kay Carter, who had a grievous and irremediable medical condition, to go back to court to win back what has already been established as their right to choice in the face of unendurable suffering.”

Gokool asked Senators to consider the mounting body of evidence showing that the government’s rationale for making Bill C-14 so restrictive will not stand up in court. The suggestion that the Supreme Court’s decision only applies to individuals who are near-death has been dismissed by a three-judge panel on the Court of Appeal of Alberta and by a Superior Court judge in Ontario. Moreover, Canada’s leading constitutional scholar, Peter Hogg, and numerous legal organizations, including the Canadian Bar Association, say Bill C-14’s eligibility criteria does not comply with the Charter.

 “Senators took a powerful stand for Canadians’ rights by correcting Bill C-14’s most egregious flaw,” said Gokool. “We urge them to stand firm to ensure that severely, chronically ill Canadians are not excluded by unconstitutional legislation.”

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