The federal government is asking Canadians for their input on who should be eligible for medical assistance in dying.
The government this week announced that the Department of Justice has posted a questionnaire on its website -
“The Government of Canada recognizes that medical assistance in dying (MAID) is a complex and deeply personal issue,” a news release states.
The consultation comes following last September’s ruling by the Superior Court of Québec that it was unconstitutional to limit access to MAiD to people nearing the end of life.
The court’s ruling will come into effect on March 11, 2020, unless an extension is granted by the court.
Justice Minister and Attorney General David Lametti, Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, and Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, announced the launch of the public online consultation, saying it’s an important step in responding to the court ruling and is part of the government’s progressive approach to ensuring that the federal framework reflects the evolving views and needs of the Canadian public.
“The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that the voices of all Canadians, in particular Canadians with disabilities, are heard on the issue of medical assistance in dying. In the spirit of ‘nothing without us’ and the human rights-based approach taken in the Accessible Canada Act, we will work with the disability community to address concerns around vulnerability and choice, while protecting equality rights. Together we have made a lot of progress in the area of disability rights,” said Qualtrough, Delta’s MP.
“We look forward to receiving thoughtful feedback, and will continue to work together to ensure that every person is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
Canadians and interested stakeholders are invited to share their views through the online public consultation, which will be open until January 27, 2020, on key issues such as eligibility, safeguards and advanced requests.
MAiD became legal in Canada in June 2016 and later that year Fraser Health implemented its policy on the procedure.
The FHA also recently confirmed it has given the Delta Hospice Society a deadline to agree to provide medically assisted deaths.
Following a heated annual general meeting late last year that saw the balance of power changed on the society’s board, the new board immediately put itself on a collision course with the health region by reversing a decision by the previous board to allow MAiD at the Irene Thomas Hospice in Ladner.
Health region representatives met with the leadership from the Delta Hospice to discuss the society’s compliance of their contract.
A spokesperson with the region recently told the Optimist that the FHA “reached out again to the Delta Hospice Society to share our expectations that they comply to permit medical assistance in dying by February 3, 2020.”
The issue has been a heated and divisive one for the society.
The region’s annual operating funding to the hospice could be pulled, provincial health minister Adrian Dix recently suggested.
Meanwhile, the heated feud within the society includes the leadership being accused of not adhering to Societies Act rules to make records available, a complaint which included one levelled by former executive director Sharon Farrish.
Board president Angelina Ireland told the Optimist they have every intention of fulfilling the information request.
The new board currently has a number of vacancies, which includes two members stepping down and another having been removed after the AGM. The remaining five members, all opposed to MAiD, appointed a new member, Danielle Martell, who is a priest at St. Andrew's Anglican Church and also vocal MAiD opponent.