Press Release – Bill C-7: we must take into account the lessons of the pandemic!

Facing the distress of people at the end of their lives, who are ill or living with a serious and incurable disability

Let's take care of vulnerable persons before thinking of offering them "medical assistance in dying"

Following the re-introduction of Bill C-7, modifying the law on medical assistance in dying, the citizen network Living with Dignity (LWD) and Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia (the Alliance) urge the federal government to take into account the lessons of the pandemic by making significant amendments to the bill.

Over the past few months, we have acted collectively with great caution to protect the most vulnerable members of our society. Facing the distress of people at the end of their lives, who are ill or living with a serious and incurable disability, we must invoke this same principle of prudence before facilitating access to medical assistance in dying as proposed in C-7.

As this bill is a copy of the late C-7 (which died on the order paper when the Canadian Parliament was prorogued), VDD and the Alliance recall their common position statement on the previous bill, shared last February.

If this bill is kept as is, “Canada will have the most permissive voluntary euthanasia program in the world”!

Dr. Patrick Vinay, a Montreal-based palliative care specialist and Chair of the Board of Directors of Living with Dignity, reminds us that “death is not an appropriate response to suffering. We are concerned that opening the door wide to euthanasia for people who are not at the end of life could undermine medical and social efforts to help these people. The proposed three months’ waiting period before carrying out an act of euthanasia should clearly be used to actively seek new solutions, to intensify relational support and not to wait for a programmed death. Guidelines to this effect are lacking in the law”. 

Through Dr. Pascal Bastien in Ottawa, the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia reminds us of its many concerns regarding the bill: “In addition to the removal of the criterion of reasonably foreseeable natural death in response to the Gladu-Truchon decision, we deplore the reduction of protective safeguards, the loss of the right to change one’s mind, the fact that the bill does not exclude euthanasia in situations of
disabilities or chronic illness, and that it does not adequately protect people with mental illness. There is also no requirement for the patient to have access to other means to relieve suffering”.

Both organizations invite the public to contact their MP to call for significant amendments to this law modifying access to euthanasia. Other initiatives to raise awareness of this issue will be launched in the coming weeks.