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

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

Dan Imhof with a group of Bulkley Valley Soccer Society kids. (Contributed photo)
Two members of BV soccer club honoured with provincial awards

Daniel Imhof is Youth Coach of the Year and Georgia Mack is Administrator of the Year

Confusion, backlash surround Hazelton area zoning amendments

A proposed Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine zoning amendment bylaw regarding mobile dwellings… Continue reading

Smithers Town Hall (Trevor Hewitt photo)
Council Briefs: Regular Meeting, November 24, 2020

Smithers Town Council approves $30,000 in technology upgrades to council chambers from COVID fund

Kelly Spurway hands out bag lunches on Main Street in Smithers out of the Salvation Army’s mobile community service unit earlier this year. (Thom Barker photo)
Christmas food donations threatened as demand soars

Cancelled Santa’s Breakfast usually a big help to fill the shelves, Sally Ann looks to other events

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Janet Austin, the lieutenant-governor of British Columbia, not seen, swears in Premier John Horgan during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Horgan says he will look to fill gaps in the federal government’s sick-pay benefits program aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. premier says province prepared to patch holes in new federal sick-pay benefits

Horgan said workers should not be denied pay when they are preventing COVID-19’s spread

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

Most Read