Longwoods Blog

Report of the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying

Hon. Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie and Robert Oliphant Joint Chairs

FEBRUARY 2016: 42 nd PARLIAMENT, 1 st SESSION

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On 6 February 2015, in Carter v. Canada (Attorney General) (Carter, or the Carter decision),1 the Supreme Court of Canada declared section 14 and section 241(b) of the Criminal Code void

insofar as they prohibit physician-assisted death for a competent adult person who (1) clearly consents to the termination of life; and (2) has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition. “Irremediable”, it should be added, does not require the patient to undertake treatments that are not acceptable to the individual.

The Court found that the prohibition infringed the claimants’ rights under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  The Court noted that “[i]t 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.” While the issue of medical assistance in dying (MAID)6 is complex and many observers are concerned about protecting vulnerable individuals from being induced to seek MAID, the Court also noted that the trial judge “concluded that a permissive regime with properly designed and administered safeguards was capable of protecting vulnerable people from abuse and error. While there are risks, to be sure, a carefully designed and managed system is capable of adequately addressing them.”

 

This entry was posted on Friday, February 26th, 2016 at 10:11 am and is filed under Publisher's Page.