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

The Sooke School District is actively looking for more bus drivers after they had to cancel a handful of bus routes in late November. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bus driver shortage cancels routes in Sooke School District

More drivers needed to accomodate expanding bus routes amid pandemic

The IIO’s chief civilian director has cleared Victoria police of any wrongdoing in the Nov. 21 death of a man they had earlier arrested. (Black Press Media file photo)
Investigation clears Victoria police of wrongdoing in arrested man’s death

Police watchdog determined police action or inaction played no role in man’s death

Joe Robertson and Jack Amos ran the length of Vancouver Island, with the help of their van Pippi, raising more than $12,000 for 1Up Victoria Single Parent Resource Centre. (Photo submitted)
Greater Victoria pair finishes running length of Vancouver Island a day early

Joe Robertson and Jack Amos raised more than $12,000 for single parents

Penny Hart is calling on the community to help find her son Sean Hart who was last seen on Nov. 6 at a health institution in Saanich. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Search spreads for Saanich man missing from mental health facility for nearly a month

Family hopeful as possible sightings reported across Island and in Vancouver

(AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)
POLL: Has COVID-19 changed your plans for the holidays?

The lights are going up, the stacks of presents under the tree… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 1

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

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 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy are inviting audiences into their home for ‘A Celtic Family Christmas’. (Submitted)
Natalie MacMaster coming to you through Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Here’s your chance to enjoy the famed fiddler in an online show with her husband Donnell Leahy.

BIG SALMON ranch in Washington State. (Center for Whale Research handout)
Non-profit buys Chinook ranch in hopes of increasing feed for southern resident killer whales

The ranch, which borders both sides of Washington State’s Elwha River, is a hotspot for chinook salmon

Most Read