Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia
On June 17, 2016, Canada’s Parliament passed Bill C-14, the new law to regulate assisted suicide and euthanasia in Canada. This has been a very difficult, complex, and emotional experience for all Parliamentarians and Canadians. I’d like to provide you with a brief history on the process and what will happen now.
On February 6, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) ruled that it will be legal to assist an individual with suicide and euthanasia under strict conditions. The SCC instructed Parliament to create legislation by June 2016 that included safeguards, within a strict enforcement regime that would permit a competent adult, who is suffering from a “grievous and irremediable medical condition,” to receive assistance from a physician to end their life.
In January 2016, I was appointed to the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying. The Committee was tasked with consulting Canadians and providing recommendations for new legislation. I met with many Langley—Aldergrove residents, hosted town hall meetings and travelled to consult with Canadians. Unfortunately, the Committee report fell far short of what was necessary to protect vulnerable Canadians and the Charter-protected conscience rights of health professionals.
I was one of the MPs who wrote a dissenting report that raised numerous concerns and proposed meaningful safeguards. Our dissenting report received broad support from Canadians.
The Government then introduced legislation, Bill C-14, which addressed some concerns, trying to reach a balance between safeguards and autonomy. I was again part of the legislative process, where amendments were proposed. Few amendments were accepted in the House of Commons and the Senate.
An important safeguard that was maintained in C-14 is that an individual who requests assisted suicide or euthanasia must be in a condition of health where “natural death has become reasonably foreseeable.” This safeguard in C-14 has the objective “to recognize the significant and continuing public health issue of suicide, to guard against death being seen as a solution to all forms of suffering, and to counter negative perceptions about the quality of life of persons who are elderly, ill, or disabled.”
C-14 has now become the law in Canada. It requires that additional studies be done on access to assisted suicide and euthanasia through advance directives, for minors, and for those with a mental illness.
One of the biggest concerns remains: C-14 requires that an individual requesting assisted suicide or euthanasia must be informed of health care options that would help alleviate their suffering, including palliative care. Unfortunately, C-14 fails to require that palliative care is provided to any person that needs and requests it. Palliative care is presently not available to 70–83% of Canadians that need it. Canada desperately needs to create a National Palliative Care Strategy and for palliative care to become a core health care service in Canada.
C-14 fails to protect the conscience rights of Canadian health care professionals or institutions. Seventy percent of Canadian physicians have indicated they do not want to provide assisted suicide. Canada already has a critical shortage of physicians and health care providers. As a result, I have introduced Bill C-268 to protect the conscience rights of all health care professions against being forced to participate in assisted suicide. The debate on C-268 will begin in the Fall 2017 session of Parliament.
Thank you to everyone who responded to my householder questionnaire and town hall meeting surveys. I look forward to receiving your continued input and questions.
Mark Warawa, M.P.
Householder Survey Responses on C-14
We have received over 500 responses — and counting. Below is a summary of the results.
|Question||Yes||No||Unsure||None or Other Response|
|1. Should C-14 be amended to protect the conscience rights of physicians and health care professionals from being forced against their will to participate in assisted-suicide or euthanasia?||88%||8%||2%||2%|
|2. Should palliative care be offered to anyone requesting assisted suicide or euthanasia?||84%||8%||6%||2%|
|3. Should a prior independent assessment be required for assisted suicide?||80%||11%||6%||3%|
|4. Should assisted suicide be provided to minors?||9%||77%||13%||1%|
|5. Should an amended C-14 be supported?||63%||14%||18%||5%|
- Summary of Response Forms: Physician Assisted Dying Public Meeting (The Langleys)
- Dissenting Report
- Committee Report on Physician Assisted Suicide
- Bill C-14
- Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 5,  1 S.C.R. 331
- Assisted Suicide Survey
- Angus Reid Poll: Canadians Reject Certain Committee Recommendations
- Bill C-268: Protection of Freedom of Conscience Act
May 5, 2016
MP Warawa Introduces Protection of Freedom of Conscience Act
Ottawa, ON – Today, Mark Warawa, Member of Parliament for Langley—Aldergrove, introduced his Private Member’s Bill C-268: Protection of Freedom of Conscience Act.
Warawa’s bill would amend the Liberal government’s assisted suicide legislation, Bill C-14. It would guarantee the protection of conscience rights of physicians and health care professionals who conscientiously object to participating in assisted suicide and euthanasia.
“I have heard from Canadians across the country who are very concerned that physicians and health care professionals would be forced to participate in assisted suicide or euthanasia against their will,” said Warawa. “There has been overwhelming agreement that legislation is needed to protect the conscience rights of physicians.”
The Canadian Medical Association noted that approximately 70% of Canadian physicians do not want to participate, directly or indirectly, in assisted suicide and euthanasia. The remaining 30%, approximate 24,000 Canadian physicians, have indicated that they would provide assisted suicide and euthanasia.
“I encourage all Canadians and parliamentarians to lend their support for this very important piece of legislation that will protect the conscience rights of Canadians,” said Warawa. Canadians can sign the conscience protection petition at markwarawa.com.
C-268 makes it a criminal offence to intimidate or coerce a physician, nurse practitioner, pharmacist, or any other health care professional to take part, directly or indirectly, in assisted suicide or euthanasia.
It also makes it a criminal offence to dismiss from employment or to refuse to employ a physician, nurse practitioner, pharmacist, or any other health care professional if they refuse to take part, directly or indirectly, in assisted suicide or euthanasia.
MP Mark Warawa speaks at debate of Bill C-14
May 2, 2016
MP Warawa Concerned with Liberal Assisted Suicide Bill
April 14, 2016
Ottawa, ON – Today, Mark Warawa, Member of Parliament for Langley—Aldergrove, outlined his concerns with the Government’s Bill C-14: Medical Assistance in Dying.
“The Government’s bill on assisted suicide and euthanasia does not include the safeguards required by the Carter decision,” said Warawa. “I am very concerned that there are serious gaps in the legislation and that it does not protect the conscience rights of health care professionals.”
“The priority of Parliament is to ensure that this legislation includes safeguards to protect the most vulnerable Canadians, and that the conscience rights of physicians and health professionals are protected,” continued Warawa. “I will continue to push for appropriate safeguards. It is imperative that this bill is written correctly.”
“I am also concerned that the Liberals broke a key election commitment to invest $3-billion in long-term care, including palliative care,” continued Warawa. “Access to palliative care is an essential part of end-of-life care, which was promised but is not included in the Liberal’s 2016 Budget.”
“I am pleased that the Liberal Government listened to some of our recommendations in the Dissenting Report, which was attached to the Committee’s main report,” added the MP. “I call on the Government to have all of our recommendations included in the bill.”
“This is a sensitive issue with deeply held beliefs among Canadians,” said Warawa. “We call on all parties to have a free vote on this legislation.”
MP Warawa sat on the Special Joint Committee on Physician Assisted Dying, which was tasked with consulting with Canadians and providing recommendations for a legislative response to the Carter decision. MP Warawa joined his colleagues in presenting a Dissenting Report, which outlined how the Committee’s main report did reflect the safeguards outlined by the Carter decision.
Warawa Deeply Concerned by Committee Report on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide:
February 25, 2016
Committee Report Disregards Supreme Court Instructions
OTTAWA, ON – Today, Mark Warawa, Member of Parliament for Langley—Aldergrove and Official Opposition Critic for Seniors, joined other Members of Parliament on the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying, Michael Cooper (St. Albert-Edmonton), Gérard Deltell (Louis-St-Laurent), and Harold Albrecht (Kitchener-Conestoga) to release a dissenting report in response to the Report of the Committee tabled in Parliament this morning.
“The Liberal dominated Committee Report goes far beyond the Supreme Court’s mandate and ignores the deeply held beliefs of many Canadians,” said Warawa. On January 30, 2016 a Public Meeting was held in the Langleys. Residents were surveyed on how the Committee should deal with the issue of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia. “I am disappointed that the report ignored the views of Canadians. I hand delivered the results of the survey to the Committee, which unfortunately was ignored.”
The survey found that an overwhelming majority of Langley residents believe that:
The conscience rights of individuals, organizations and institutions should be protected (92.4%)
Effective palliative care should be offered to a competent adult requesting physician assisted suicide (95.8%)
Continuing consent should be required from a competent adult requesting physician assisted suicide (87.3%)
A person must suffer from a terminal illness in order to qualify for assisted suicide or euthanasia (75.4%)
Independent adjudication should be required prior to approval for assisted suicide or euthanasia (84.7%)
A proportionate waiting period should be included in the legislation (85.6%)
“The recommendations in the Committee’s Report will put vulnerable Canadians, including seniors, at risk,” said Warawa. “The report ignores the need for stringent safeguards and palliative care. The report also disregards conscience protection for physicians and health institutions.”
MP Mark Warawa asks why the Prime Minister is not protecting our most vulnerable seniors
February 26, 2016
Pallative Care Forum Interviews
March 9, 2016
Senator Batters talks to CTV Power Play's Don Martin
February 25, 2016
Description: Senator Batters talks to CTV Power Play’s Don Martin about her opposition to the inclusion of psychological suffering as grounds for physician-assisted suicide. (Feb 25, 2016). (Video courtesy of CTV’s Power Play with Don Martin)
Assisted Suicide: How One Woman Chose to Die, Then Survived
Committee Chair Makes Inappropriate Comments When Tabling Report
Euthanasia in Canada