Update: The federal government's online survey on assisted dying will be open until Nov. 1, 2015.
It's time. We are pleased to unveil our toolkit to help you participate in the federal public consultation on physician assisted dying.
Many elements of the consultation — from the selection of the panelists, to the nature of its online survey — are problematic. But we can't afford to miss out on this opportunity to make our voices heard. If champions of compassion don't speak out, forces looking to limit your choice will surely fill the void.
Browse our suggestions below to help you interpret and effectively respond to the online survey.
In its landmark Feb. 2015 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the federal prohibition on physician assisted dying. The court gave the federal and provincial governments a year to legislate, but did not require them to pass new laws.
For five months, the federal government was silent. They’ve now moved from inaction to obstruction. First it was the appointment of a panel chaired and staffed with opponents of assisted dying. DWD Canada expressed concerns about the imbalance of the panel and challenged the panelists to overcome their personal and very public bias against physician assisted dying. Two of the panelists had previously provided court testimony against physician assisted dying. But that was just the beginning.
The online survey
On Friday, Aug. 28, the External Panel on Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v. Canada released its anonymous online survey to consult Canadians on their views on assisted dying. The survey is deeply troubling. In the words of our CEO, Wanda Morris, it was not designed to elicit information but instead to manufacture fear. Here are a few reasons why:
- It includes leading questions that raise fears while excluding legitimate options that would address those concerns.
- Evidence is ignored. Concerns that have been shown to be unfounded are shared by prefacing them with “some people think."
- In regulating assisted dying there are two primary risks. One is that assisted dying will be too readily available — and patients will not be sufficiently protected from making an impulsive or coerced decision. The second is that barriers to accessing assisted dying will prevent eligible patients with unbearable suffering from obtaining assisted deaths. This survey asks 33 questions on risks and 30 of them address the risk that the patient will be assisted to die inappropriately.
We do not want silence to be mistaken as tacit approval. By using the consultation process to point out the deep flaws within it, we can raise our voices for choice and compassion. We recommend you consider one or more of the following options.
- Take the survey. Stay alert to efforts to lead your responses with one-sided or out-of-context information. Skip questions at will, especially where you feel none of the available answers represent your views.
- After completing (or skipping) the main body of the survey questions, answer the final two questions. These allow you to address whether you thought the survey was fair and to leave additional comments.