Questions for candidates

DWD Canada has compiled a list of key questions about assisted dying to ask the candidates on the campaign trail.

Top questions:

1. If you are elected as my Member of Parliament and there is a free vote in the House of Commons, will you support legislation that reflects letter and the spirit of the Carter decision for the right to die with dignity?

2. Are you willing complete DWD Canada's Political Candidates Questionnaire?

Other questions to ask:

1. Will you oppose any delay in implementing physician assisted dying (PAD) beyond February 6, 2016, regardless of whether legislation has been passed?

Preferred Response: Yes, although legislation may not have been passed into law, it is important that on February 6, 2016, Canadians have access to PAD in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Supreme Court of Canada decision.

2. The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision allows for physician assisted dying by both: a) Physician administration of life-ending medication; and b) providing prescription for life-ending medication. Will you ensure that both of these options are available to all Canadians?

Preferred Response: Yes, both administration and prescription should be included in any written legislation. Some people will be unable to self-administer life-ending medication and others may simply prefer to have a doctor administer their medications directly. 

3. Will you support reasonable safeguards but oppose unreasonable barriers to access for physician assisted dying?

Preferred Response: Yes. While it is essential that we ensure the vulnerable are protected, it is also vital that eligible Canadians who want an assisted death can receive one in a timely manner.

An example of a reasonable safeguard would be the involvement of a second physician, or a reasonable waiting period (say three weeks) for non-terminal patients.

Unreasonable safeguards would include excessive waiting periods, reviews by external bodies or requirements for approval from anyone other than the individual themselves.

4. How will you ensure patient choice, patient care and equality of access?

Preferred Response: All individuals who qualify for physician assisted dying should have timely access. If an individual’s primary doctor chooses not to provide an assisted death, a duty to refer will be implemented. Eligible patients across Canada should be transferred into the care of a willing doctor in a timely manner, and they should not be required to travel in order to access PAD.

5. As you understand it, what are the core components that will be required legislatively to ensure the spirit of the Supreme Court of Canada decision in the Carter case?

Preferred Response: To uphold the spirit of the Carter decision, the following criteria must be met:

  • access for competent Canadians with a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disability or disease)

  • the option for either the prescription or administration of life-ending medication

  • physician and pharmacists are required to make effective referrals so patients are not abandoned

  • reasonable, but not overly burdensome, safeguards

What are you prepared to do to ensure access to physician assisted dying?

Preferred Answer: (Open-ended question. Look for assurances that the candidate is interested in promoting PAD.)

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