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

Pea sized hail rained from the skies in Prince Rupert on Nov. 30 leaving roads covered in a sheet of ice. (Photo; K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Large hail caused icy conditions in Prince Rupert

High wind warnings in effect for North Coast and Haida Gwaii

The Fairview-Ridley Connector Corridor is now 75 per cent complete, announced Prince Rupert Port Authority on Nov. 30. (Photo: supplied by PRPA)
Crews are working 24 hours a day to complete vital infrastructure road in Prince Rupert

Fairview-Ridley Connector Corridor is 75% complete announced Prince Rupert Port Authority

Illustration courtesy Pacific Northern Gas
Illustration shows what’s involved with the plan by Pacific Northern Gas to expand the capacity of its natural gas line serving the northwest.
LNG projects hold out potential for lower gas user rates

LNG plants planned for Port Edward and Terrace

Prince Rupert carving artist Henry Kelly is having his work installed on Nov. 20, as a permanent art exhibit at the Prince Rupert Regional Airport. The traditional cedar canoe is a welcome symbol to those arriving at YPR. (Photo: supplied)
Art unveiling ceremonies at YPR cancelled due to new pandemic restrictions

Coast Tsimshian Cultural Exhibit at Prince Rupert Regional Airport features local carvers

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Fatty Legs co-author responds to Abbotsford class assignment on residential schools

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
B.C. man defends his family against intruder, saves neighbour while wielding hockey stick

RCMP looking for footage that captures violent crime spree in Chilliwack

Harbour seals rest on log booms at Flavelle Mill in Port Hardy. With recent announcements the mill will be getting rid of the log booms, Dr. David Rosen sees an opportunity to study how the disappearance of this highly-frequented refuge for the seals will alter their behaviour in Burrard Inlet. (Photo supplied by David Rosen)
What the heck is going on with marine mamals in Vancouver waterways?

UBC researcher asks why they’re returning, and what role we’re playing

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009. (RCMP photo)
Human remains found off U.S. coast in 2009 identified as Penticton man

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond speaks to a reporter in Vancouver on November 13, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
No evidence that B.C. ER staff played blood alcohol level game, but Indigenous racism ‘widespread’

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond releases findings of independent investigation

Most Read