COLUMN: Considering medically assisted dying

The federal government has undertaken to review of the current legislation

Before I begin my MP report, I would like to take a moment on behalf of the citizens of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, to express sincere condolences to the families and friends who lost loved ones aboard Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752.

This heartbreaking tragedy has been felt across Canada including here in the Okanagan.

Please know that our thoughts are with you at this very difficult time.

Now on to my weekly report.

As some may be aware, medical assistance in dying was legalized in the last parliament based on a ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada.

During the last parliament I wrote multiple reports on Bill C-14, technically known as “An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying.)”

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I also canvassed support for this bill and our region was largely supportive.

At the same time I also voiced some concerns with the proposed legislation, and several challenges have arisen in the legalization framework.

One of those challenges comes from the fact that in order to comply with the terms of the legislation, one must be considered to be “at the end of life” with the “reasonable foresee-ability of natural death” imminent.

This can mean that someone who may otherwise meet the criteria and wish to access medically assistance in dying may have to suffer for a period of time until end of life can be diagnosed as ‘imminent’.

In effect, this counters the original intent of the bill to medically assist individuals to end suffering from serious health challenges.

Recently a Quebec Superior Court has ruled this aspect of the bill unconstitutional.

As a result the federal government has undertaken to review of the current legislation to comply with the court ruling.

As part of the review process, the federal government has created an online questionnaire that citizens can participate in.

I will be posting a link to that online questionnaire at the end of this article.

Please be advised that the deadline for submissions is January 27.

It should be noted that parliament is also set to do its own review of the entire regime as the original legislation included a five year statutory review process and this will address areas outside of this Quebec court decision.

Since medically assisted dying has become legalized, more than 6,700 Canadians have utilized the program.

That leads to my question for this week:

What are your thoughts about this potential change to the medical assistance in dying legislation?

I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.

Here is a link to the government consultation: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cons/ad-am/index.html

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola. This riding includes the communities of Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Keremeos, Princeton, Merritt and Logan Lake.

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