Introduction

Webcast archive: Senate and House of Commons update

This week, we discuss the latest news regarding Bill C-14.

Webcast archive: Senate and House of Commons update

In this episode of Euthanasia & Disability, Amy Hasbrouck and Christian Debray discuss:

  • The Senate and the House of Commons act on Bill C-14

Please note that this text is only a script and that our webcast contains additional commentary.

SENATE AND HOUSE ACTION ON BILL C-14

  • On Wednesday, the Senate voted 64 to 12 (with one abstention) to accept its amended version of Bill C-14.  But yesterday, the  House of Commons voted to send the Bill back to the Senate, minus the amendment that allows anyone with a grievous and irremediable medical condition to have assisted suicide or euthanasia.
  • In addition to its amendment that removes the requirement that death be “reasonably foreseeable” to qualify for assisted suicide or euthanasia, the Senate made six other amendments to Bill C-14 in the past week, most of which the House did accept.
  • Another amendment passed by the senate would require that a person seeking assisted suicide and euthanasia be informed of options for palliative care and other alternatives to ending his or her life.
  • The Senate rejected an amendment that would have permitted advance requests for assisted suicide and euthanasia for people who anticipate that they will be incompetent when their suffering becomes intolerable.  This would, for example, allow people with dementia to make their assisted suicide contingent on some future event.  The danger, however, is that the person could decide she no longer wants to die, but would be unable to change her advance directive.
  • A proposal to make a similar measure apply in two years, and another to enable people to make advance directives in their wills, were also defeated.  The original bill already contains a provision to study the possibility of allowing advance directives.
  • Another amendment, to remove nurse practitioners from the list of those allowed to determine eligibility and perform assisted suicide and euthanasia, was narrowly defeated on Monday.
  • The ball is now back in the Senate’s court; it must now decide if it will accept the bill without its most important amendment, or reject it.  Some Senators have indicated that they will defer to the elected house of commons, but others have said that the bill is unconstitutional and unacceptable with the end-of-life requirement, and they will vote against the bill.
  • Yesterday the Vulnerable Persons Standard Coalition held a forum in Ottawa to show the support of the disability community for the “end-of-life” provision of Bill C-14.
  • The forum was simulcast on the internet and many viewers sent messages explaining why they felt the “reasonably foreseeable” death requirement must be in the final legislation.  The minister in charge of disability affairs, Carla Qualtrough addressed the forum, announcing that the Government will continue to press for the end-of-life provision.
  • Other speakers included Bonnie Brayton from Disabled Women’s Network of Canada, Dr. Harvey Chochinov, a palliative care physician, and Amy Hasbrouck of Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet.
  • PLEASE NOTE:  After the webcast, the Senate voted to accept the assisted dying bill with the provision limiting access to people whose death was reasonably foreseeable.  With royal assent, assisted suicide and euthanasia became law in Canada on June 17.