Conservative MP Michael Cooper rises during question period on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on October 6, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Conservative MP Michael Cooper rises during question period on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on October 6, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Doctors, Conservative MPs say not enough consultation on assisted-dying bill

The bill is now being studied by the justice committee after passing second reading in the House of Commons

A group of physicians say they were turned away from providing their perspective on proposed changes to the assisted-dying law.

The doctors, along with Conservative MPs, said Thursday the Liberals placed an arbitrary cutoff on accepting submissions to the committee studying the bill without telling anyone, and that led to multiple submissions from physicians being rejected.

“As an emergency and family doctor, I know the importance of consultation, along with the day to day experiences and sufferings of Canadians which cannot be ignored,” said Dr. Adam Taylor, who appeared along other colleagues and two Conservative MPs Thursday at a press conference.

“I’m terrifically concerned about this.”

The bill, C-7, is in response to a Quebec court ruling last fall that struck down a provision in the existing legislation that restricted access to a doctor-assisted death to those whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable.

The new bill would allow access both for those who are near death, and those who aren’t, with more stringent rules applied in those circumstances.

For those deemed to be near death, the government is proposing to drop the requirement that a person must wait 10 days after being approved for an assisted death before receiving the procedure. It would also reduce the number of witnesses needed to one from two.

It also proposes to drop the requirement that a person must be able to give consent a second time immediately before receiving the procedure.

Several physicians at Thursday’s news conference said removing the waiting period, and the need for a second sign-off, raises the risk of people requesting and receiving medical assistance in dying (MAID) on the same day, when perhaps that wasn’t what they truly wanted.

“In my clinical experience, many requests for MAID actually requested a need for good quality palliative care, and providing that care to the patient actually changed the request for MAID and changed their decisions,” said Dr. Stephanie Kafie.

The bill is now being studied by the justice committee after passing second reading in the House of Commons 246-78 in late October.

The Conservatives have argued the government should have appealed the original court ruling to the Supreme Court, rather than trying to rush legislation through Parliament to meet a twice-extended, court-imposed deadline of Dec. 18.

But many in the party have broader concerns with the bill, and MP Michael Cooper said Thursday they will be introducing amendments.

Among them will be proposals to extend the waiting period for those whose death is not foreseeable beyond the proscribed 90 days, on the grounds that referrals to palliative care supports can sometimes take longer than that.

Cooper said the Tories also want a second witness requirement reinstated, and an amendment that would protect the conscience rights of health-care practitioners who, for moral or religious grounds, refuse to take part in an assisted death or even to refer patients to someone who will.

In May 2019, the Ontario Court of Appeal issued a unanimous ruling that doctors who have moral objections to providing health services like abortion or assisted death must provide patients with an “effective referral’” to another doctor.

The assisted-dying law already says explicitly that medical practitioners can’t be compelled to provide assisted deaths.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

medical aid in dying

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A planned ‘deck the big rigs’ light display is cancelled due to COVID-19 related public health orders. (Black Press File Photo)
Quesnel’s outdoor Tour of Lights cancelled due to COVID-19

Updated public health orders from the province mean stopping all events — even if they’re outdoors

An example of the Quesnel Downtown Association’s new branding. (Downtown Quesnel Facebook Photo)
Quesnel Downtown Association requests two-year bylaw renewal

The BIA is also requesting boundary changes to bring in more businesses

Quesnel council agreed to enter into a five-year lease with Kismet Management Ltd. for 1.56 hectares of land at the Quesnel Regional Airport during the Nov. 24 council meeting. (City of Quesnel Photo)
Quesnel council approves new lease agreement for airport lands

The five-year lease with Kismet Management Ltd. would generate additional revenue for the city

A helicopter made its way through the clouds to rescue a stranded snowmobiler on Yanks Peak. (Facebook Video Screenshot)
Quesnel Search and Rescue praises public help in latest search

Gerald Schut said the public didn’t disturb the search area until given direction from SAR teams

Patricia Berston of Quesnel recently won $200,000 through Casino Royale II, a scratch and win game offered by the B.C. Lottery Corporation. (B.C. Lottery Corporation Photo)
Quesnel woman wins $200,000 playing scratch and win game

Patricia Breston won while playing Casino Royale II

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

FILE – A paramedic holds a test tube containing a blood sample during an antibody testing program at the Hollymore Ambulance Hub, in Birmingham, England, on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Simon Dawson/Pool via AP)
Want to know if you’ve had COVID-19? LifeLabs is offering an antibody test

Test costs $75 and is available in B.C. and Ontario

The grey region of this chart shows the growth of untraced infection, due to lack of information on potential sources. With added staff and reorganization, the gap is stabilized, Dr. Bonnie Henry says. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 tracing to keep up with surging cases

People now notified of test results by text message

Most Read