Key proponents of Bill C-14, the Liberal government’s proposed assisted dying law, continue to claim that a "legal vacuum" for assisted dying will exist unless legislation is passed in time for June 6, when the Supreme Court's decision in Carter v. Canada comes into force.
Regardless of whether its a deliberate scare tactic or a result of a misunderstanding of the facts, this assertion is clearly false. And a new one-page point-form summary, Josh Paterson, the executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, the organization that won the assisted dying challenge in Carter v. Canada, outlines four key reasons why this is the case.
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1) Every single provincial medical regulator has already put detailed guidelines and safeguards in place.
These guidelines differ from province to province, but include the number of doctors needed to confirm a patient’s eligibility and consent (two), the length of the waiting period after a patient requests assisted dying and how much documentation is required (all provinces and territories require extensive documentation). A report by Joan Bryden of The Canadian Press details what regulations are in place in each province.
2) The Carter decision already sets clear, but fair, rules on who is eligible for MAID.
To qualify for assisted dying under the Supreme Court’s rigorous criteria, individuals have to be competent and suffering intolerably from an enduring illness, disease or disability that is grievous and irremediable.
3) Medical professionals can be assured that they will be protected under existing guidelines.
Paterson writes that medical professionals will not face any criminal liability because “physician-assisted dying, lawfully conducted within the requirements of Carter, will not be a crime.” Conscientious objection rights of physicians will also be protected under all of the provincial/territorial guidelines.
4) The Supreme Court never imposed a deadline for legislation.
In paragraph 126 of the Carter decision, the Supreme Court said, “it is for Parliament and the provincial legislatures to respond, should they so choose, by enacting legislation consistent with the constitutional parameters set out in these reasons.” In other words, Canada’s top court did not require Parliament to pass legislation by a particular date—or ever.
For more on why Bill C-14 is unconstitutional and what happens on June 6 if no legislation is passed, read Paterson’s document here.