Dying With Dignity Canada to intervene in Quebec constitutional challenge to federal assisted dying legislation

Dying With Dignity Canada has been named an official intervener in a court case challenging the constitutionality of both the federal and Quebec assisted dying laws.

The leading organization helping Canadians to avoid unwanted, unnecessary suffering at end of life, Dying With Dignity Canada (DWDC) is pleased to participate in a joint intervention with the Quebec-based Association Québécoise pour le droit de mourir dans la dignité (AQDMD). Both organizations will be represented pro bono by Langlois Avocat, a Montreal-based law firm.

DWDC will intervene in support of the challenge’s two applicants, Jean Truchon and Nicole Gladu, who say the restrictive eligibility criteria of both laws violate their Charter rights. Both are suffering intolerably from degenerative medical conditions, but are currently excluded from the federal medical assistance in dying (MAID) legislation and the Quebec law, Bill 52, which requires that individuals be terminally ill.

This is the second constitutional court challenge to the federal assisted dying law, Bill C-14, and its restrictive eligibility criteria, which allows MAID to only those individuals whose natural deaths are “reasonably foreseeable.” DWDC exhausted all legislative options to have the unconstitutional requirement amended to reflect the patient-centred criteria laid out in the Supreme Court of Canada’s Carter v. Canada decision.

“Not only is Bill C-14 unconstitutional, it results in unnecessary and intolerable suffering for people who should have qualified under the Carter decision,” says DWDC CEO Shanaaz Gokool. “We know that millions of Canadians supported the Supreme Court’s eligibility criteria and now millions are left out in the cold because of inequitable and inconsistent access across the country.”

According to a February 2016 poll commissioned by DWDC and conducted by Ipsos Reid, 85 per cent of Canadians support the Supreme Court’s decision to allow assisted dying to clearly consenting adults who have a grievous and irremediable medical condition that causes enduring and intolerable suffering.

“It’s very unfortunate that the federal government lacked leadership in the crafting of Bill C-14. The burden now falls to Mr. Truchon and Ms. Gladu to show courage in the face of their enduring and intolerable suffering, and to go to court to re-affirm the Carter decision” Gokool says. “DWDC will stand by them and all Canadians who continue to find no comfort in Bill C-14.”

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