The 6th of June deadline imposed by the Canadian Supreme Court to alter the Criminal Code has arrived. The C-14 draft law adopted by the Lower House last Tuesday is currently being discussed in the Senate. However, without waiting for the framework of this new legislation to be adopted, medically assisting someone to die is no longer a criminal offence in Canada.
The Supreme Court had deemed that “the ban on suicide violates the rights of patients with ‘serious and irremediable’ health problems causing persistent, intolerable suffering”. The Federal Government should “set clear guidelines specifying the conditions under which medical staff are ‘authorised’ to help a patient to die” (see Canada: should Parliament follow the Supreme Court on assisted dying?, The Quebec Higher Court suspends end-of-life legislation). Pending the final vote on C-14, patients with serious and irremediable health problems who are not necessarily at the end of their lives can have access to medically assisted dying via the Carter decree.
Senators have two weeks to complete their investigation and come up with amendments. According to them, the C-14 draft law is “too restrictive”.
Archbishop Mancini, following Cardinal Lacroix (see Canada: It is “dangerous” to authorise medically assisted dying), is opposed to this “unacceptable” practice: “Suffering and death are part of life and reality. He calls for better palliative care and invites people to exercise “extreme caution and wisdom when selecting caregivers”.
Radio Canada (6/06/2016); La Presse (6/06/2016)