An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying)

This bill was previously introduced in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session.

Sponsor

David Lametti  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to, among other things,

(a) repeal the provision that requires a person’s natural death be reasonably foreseeable in order for them to be eligible for medical assistance in dying;

(b) specify that persons whose sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness are not eligible for medical assistance in dying;

(c) create two sets of safeguards that must be respected before medical assistance in dying may be provided to a person, the application of which depends on whether the person’s natural death is reasonably foreseeable;

(d) permit medical assistance in dying to be provided to a person who has been found eligible to receive it, whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable and who has lost the capacity to consent before medical assistance in dying is provided, on the basis of a prior agreement they entered into with the medical practitioner or nurse practitioner; and

(e) permit medical assistance in dying to be provided to a person who has lost the capacity to consent to it as a result of the self-administration of a substance that was provided to them under the provisions governing medical assistance in dying in order to cause their own death.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

March 11, 2021 Passed Motion respecting Senate amendments to Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying)
March 11, 2021 Failed Motion respecting Senate amendments to Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying) (amendment)
March 11, 2021 Passed Motion for closure
Dec. 10, 2020 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying)
Dec. 3, 2020 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying)
Dec. 3, 2020 Failed Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying) (report stage amendment)
Oct. 29, 2020 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying)

Employment Insurance ActGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2021 / 11:40 a.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, I was very precise in saying that Conservatives had been prepared to work with the government on issues such as Bill C-18 and Bill C-24.

The member raises the issue of the government's desire to expedite legislation that would effectively undermine suicide prevention in this country. The government's new position on Bill C-7, which has been barely debated in the House and never studied in a House of Commons committee, would allow those whose primary health complaint is mental health related, who are dealing with depression or other mental health challenges, to be given suicide facilitation by the government.

That is a deadly serious issue. It is dead wrong, and it is strongly opposed by mental health advocates and disability rights organizations. I know that the member and many other members are receiving phone calls from constituents who have been blindsided by this rush to have state-facilitated suicide for the mentally ill. We will oppose that. That is dead wrong and—

Employment Insurance ActGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2021 / 12:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, as always, it is a pleasure to speak in the House on behalf of my constituents. We are here today to discuss Bill C-24. Because of the government's failure to manage the House of Commons effectively, we are seeing its has created a crisis through its mismanagement. Once again we are up against a hard deadline, with benefits expiring for Canadians, and the government not managing the House calendar or its legislation so we can consider this fully. The bill before us today would expand the spending of the government by $12.1 billion. Because of how this is going to go, with members debating it for about six hours, that is about $2 billion an hour for every hour we will be able to discuss and review it here.

As has been said, this would fix a problem that is a result of the government's first attempt to provide benefits to Canadians, Bill C-2, which was rushed through the House at that time to meet a deadline the government knew about, but failed to plan for or to present legislation in a timely fashion to the House to address. That because the Prime Minister prorogued the House, shut everything down, eliminated all of the legislation that was on the Order Paper because of the WE Charity scandal. Things were getting a little too hot on that at the time, and it was time to shut down the investigations into the Prime Minister and his involvement in the WE Charity scandal, so he prorogued Parliament, which created this rush to get legislation before an October deadline when the CERB would end.

The bill was rushed through and Liberals did not realize that they had provided in that legislation a $1,000 bonus to people who had gone on leisure vacations outside of the country. People could apply and get $1,000 for the time they were at home during their 14-day quarantine after international travel. The bill passed, as has been said, because we needed to get the benefits to Canadians whose CERB was expiring, but there were no committee studies or debate in the House because of the government's mismanagement of this file. It saw a deadline, it did not care, and it rushed and made mistakes. That is indicative of the government's approach.

We are seeing it again today not only in this debate, but also in another important debate. I would argue that one of the most important debates the the House will have in this Parliament is on Bill C-7 and the Senate amendments to it. That debate is being cut short because of the government's failure to plan or provide legislation and opportunities for parliamentarians to intervene on behalf of their constituents. We have a situation where, later this day, debate will be shut down on Bill C-7 and the Senate amendments, which call for the expansion of medical aid in dying to include people who only have mental illness or disabling conditions and who will now have access to medical aid in dying, something that has not been studied by this Parliament or in committee.

Because of the government's mismanagement and failure to respond in a timely fashion to court decisions and legislative deadlines, we now have a situation where yet another bill, in addition to this one, is jammed up against a deadline. The Liberals are forcing parliamentarians to address complex issues, in this case, life and death issues, with almost no time in the House because of their failures and mismanagement. People in my riding are very concerned about this. They are concerned about the government's inability to manage the House and debate on legislation in a way that addresses their concerns.

People have written to me about it, and there is one organization in particular from my riding that I want to highlight. The Chilliwack Society for Community Living signed an important letter from the Vulnerable Persons Standard, calling on members of Parliament to do better. It says, “Bill C-7 sets apart people with disabilities and disabling conditions as the only Canadians to be offered assistance in dying when they are not actually nearing death.... Bill C-7 is dangerous and discriminatory.... Canadians with disabilities are hearing MPs and Senators arguing that lives just like theirs featuring disabilities just like theirs are not livable. This is harmful and hurtful and stigmatizing.”

It goes on to say:

Take your time, start over, and get this right. As you do so, be careful to heed the advice of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: "Listen closely to the most directly affected. Their antenna is highly attuned to ableism. When they see it, you should pause and reflect before proceeding."

Bill C-7 is not the answer.

This is another example, as is Bill C-24, of a government failing to take the time to allow Parliament to deliberate to get something right. If we had had the time to deliberate on Bill C-2, if the government had not shut down Parliament and rushed that up against the CERB deadline, I am sure that someone along the way, either in debate or as a witness at committee, would have identified this failure to focus the benefits where they were meant to be focused: on people who had to take sick leave because of COVID-19, not on those who needed to take a vacation. Had we had proper debate, that failure would have been identified.

Here again today, with just six hours of debate, it has to be rushed. After two hours, we are accused of being obstructionist and failing to do our job on behalf of Canadians. Only a Liberal government would think the solution to the problems it created by rushing a bill through Parliament previously could be solved by rushing another bill through Parliament again. That is the failure of the government.

What are we doing here? There is $12.1 billion to extend benefits to Canadians, which we have supported. All along we have supported the benefits going to Canadians who, through no fault of their own, have found their workplaces closed and their opportunities eliminated and have been forced into restrictive lockdowns. When governments force people out of their jobs and bring in conditions that restrict them from going to work, they have an obligation to provide them with an alternate income, but this cannot go on forever.

Here we are, and we are again extending it. The Conservatives support extending benefits to the people who need them, but what we also need is a plan to get past this, a plan to address the lockdowns, a plan to show Canadians there is hope for the future. That is why we have been calling on the Prime Minister to present that plan to Canadians. We have introduced a petition. The member for Calgary Nose Hill has called on the Prime Minister to use the tools we have gathered in the last year to help us get past this. We are calling on the Prime Minister to immediately present a clear plan to get Canadians safely out of lockdown. We are calling for it to include data-driven goals, a plan of action, and a timeline to achieve those goals and ensure the plan is articulated to Canadians so that they can have hope about when life and business will return to normal.

We know there have been some problems with vaccine procurement and rollout. We know there have been issues with conflicting advice being given to Canadians during this pandemic. Today we are a year into it; we have commemorated the lives that have been lost, but we also need to think about the lives that are being severely and permanently impacted right now. Some people are experiencing extreme mental health concerns. Others are not getting the health screening they need for cancer and heart disease. Other people are unable to join with others to worship freely, as is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

We need to plan forward so that we are not coming up against deadlines again and again, as the government has, to extend these benefits over and over again. We will be there when Canadians need us, but we also need to start talking about a plan and the way forward to ensure that these are not permanent benefits. The next benefit is to help our economy grow and help people get past these restrictions safely while listening to public health advice. We need a plan from the government, and we have not received it. All we have seen from the government is incompetence, mismanagement of the House, and mistakes being made time and time again. We need to do better.

Employment Insurance ActGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2021 / 12:30 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely wrong. The Conservatives have become a destructive force, playing a destructive role inside the House of Commons in recent weeks and months. Let there be no doubt about that. Even some opposition parties have recently commented on the role the Conservatives have been playing. The only reason we are seeing what we have seen in the last 24 hours is that they have been shamed into doing some of the things that they are currently doing.

The member complained about Bill C-24. There are a number of pieces of legislation the Conservative Party has deliberately attempted to delay or prevent from passing. Bill C-7 is a good example. We attempted to extend the hours in that case.

The member talked about plenty of opportunities to provide due diligence. Will the member take responsibility for the irresponsible behaviour of the official opposition and recognize that it is time we start working together once again—

Employment Insurance ActGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2021 / 12:30 p.m.
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NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague. I do not want to challenge him but to correct the record for people listening.

It is not just that the government is pushing through Bill C-7; what it has allowed to happen here is for the unelected, unaccountable Senate to rewrite the law of Canada so that people with depression will be able to ask to die in two years, and this Liberal government is supporting that. This is ignoring what Parliament stands for.

Parliament does the hard work. If members of Parliament went back to their constituents and said that instead of having suicide prevention or mental health programs, they would like to make it easier for people with mental illness to die, there would be an outcry. There would be headlines and there would be debate. That would be democratic. It is the fact that this Liberal government is using the unelected and unaccountable Senate to fundamentally change a basic principle of the right to life in this country that I find appalling, and the fact the Liberals want to rush it through the House.

They say that we have obstructed; they are obstructing the democratic rights of this House.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

March 11th, 2021 / 3:10 p.m.
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Honoré-Mercier Québec

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague and friend for his question and for giving me an opportunity to talk about what we plan to do this week and once we return to the House.

This afternoon, we will resume our study of the Senate's amendments to Bill C-7, regarding medical assistance in dying. Tomorrow, we will resume debate on Bill C-24, which would increase the number of weeks of EI regular benefits and make international travellers ineligible for recovery benefits during their mandatory quarantine.

I would also like to inform the House that for the week of March 22, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday shall be allotted days.

Until then, I wish all of our colleagues an excellent week working in their ridings.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2021 / 3:15 p.m.
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Durham Ontario

Conservative

Erin O'Toole ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the use of closure is quite unprecedented in Parliament, particularly on a topic as important as medical assistance in dying. In fact, the Minister of Justice, in question period today, said that this is a sensitive and important topic, yet he is limiting discussion of this important topic. There are literally hundreds of thousands of Canadians, those disability groups, indigenous leaders and mental health advocates, who have reasonable questions about this bill.

The minister knows the Senate substantively changed Bill C-7. Medical assistance in dying is no longer a standard of reasonably foreseeable death. It is no longer a standard of a irremediable condition. It is now going to include mental health conditions, even though there is the ability for people to get treatment and help, which is not the context first intended by Bill C-7 when the minister introduced it.

Just a month after Bell Let's Talk Day, when we talked about the need to talk when people are struggling, and when mental health advocates and thousands of Canadians have questions about this substantive change to how we address vulnerable people, people in the palliative stage of a disease and our publicly funded medical health system, why would the government limit reasonable questions of concern, particularly when it comes to mental health, and use closure in this way on Bill C-7?

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2021 / 3:20 p.m.
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Liberal

David Lametti Liberal LaSalle—Émard—Verdun, QC

Madam Speaker, I assure the House and Canadians that nothing could be further from the truth. We consulted widely and deeply, beginning in January 2020, on this phase of the legislation, Bill C-7. We consulted over 300,000 Canadians online. We spread out across the country, from coast to coast to coast, to listen to Canadians who had experience with MAID and to listen to the disability community. Indeed, the very structure of Bill C-7 takes into account what we have heard from the disability community and builds in safeguards for the non-end-of-life scenario, representing the concerns we heard directly from them.

The leadership in the Senate from a senator who lives with a disability is, quite vigorously, evidence that we have indeed listened to and supported that community. With—

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2021 / 3:25 p.m.
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Liberal

David Lametti Liberal LaSalle—Émard—Verdun, QC

Madam Speaker, I am satisfied that we are still respecting the process we put forward with Bill C-7 that had the general support of Canadians. We have always said that we would be dealing with the question of mental health in a profound way in the parliamentary review that was originally envisaged in 2016. We are still doing that.

We are now benefiting from the work the Senate has done. We will benefit from the work of the committee too. However, at the end of the day, I want to reassure the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands that as parliamentarians, we will roll up our sleeves and work through the mental health criterion. That will bring us within the parameters of the Carter decision and will fulfill the right of all Canadians to have access to medical assistance in dying in a reasonable and safeguarded way.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2021 / 3:30 p.m.
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Liberal

David Lametti Liberal LaSalle—Émard—Verdun, QC

Madam Speaker, again, these are the kinds of arguments that we have been hearing in this House with respect to Bill C-7 generally, and the member's party has fixated on them. The fact of the matter is that we consulted widely with the leadership of disability groups.

Nobody is forced to get MAID. We, as a government, have invested in a dignified life, and we are going to continue to invest in resources for the disabled and for mental health.

We have disagreed with the opinions offered with respect to the bill's constitutionality. I believe it is constitutional and that it is in fundamental agreement with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Also, I believe that there are fundamental errors in the report from the United Nations in the way it has characterized the legislation. Nobody is forcing people with disabilities to get MAID.

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2021 / 3:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Madam Speaker, some members seem to be forgetting that, in addition to the sensitive issues that will be sent to an expert panel and a committee in the next 30 days for review, Bill C-7 contains a number of other improvements.

The bill enables terminally ill patients to give final consent right away without waiting 10 days. It also makes it possible to respond to the situation of people like Ms. Carter, Ms. Parker, Ms. Gladu and Mr. Truchon, who received medical assistance in dying. Patients who are terminally ill are suffering, and they are waiting for us to take action. Bill C-7 already makes that change. The court said that, if we did not give these people the opportunity to be heard, then we were violating their right to life. Bill C-7 resolves that issue.

Does the minister believe that the panel will be set up in the next 30 days? Will the panel continue to work on the issue regardless of whether an election is called? Members of the panel in question will be able to work with other stakeholders. At least that will enable us to make progress on this issue. In a year—

Motion That Debate Be Not Further AdjournedCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2021 / 3:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Rob Moore Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Madam Speaker, unfortunately, we heard the minister use the word “consensus” over and over again in the last little while. The fact is that when he appeared before the justice committee on Bill C-7, he said there was no consensus to include mental illness. When he went to the Senate and spoke there, he said there was no consensus in the medical community or in Canada on the issue of mental illness.

He is now showing complete contempt for Parliament by having no debate and no study at committee and complete contempt for those in the mental illness community and those in the suicide prevention community. They include such groups as Inclusion Canada, the Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship, the DisAbled Women's Network, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities and the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action.

Hundreds of organizations have signed a letter asking members of Parliament to please vote against the inclusion of mental illness in Bill C-7. Why is the minister putting the cart before the horse? We need to first study this legislation before moving forward.

Motion in Relation to Senate AmendmentsCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2021 / 4:30 p.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I can appreciate the gravity of the debate that has been taking place on this very important piece of legislation. It is nothing new to members, no matter what side of the aisle they are on. Those who have been around for the last four or five years have literally seen hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of debate and discussion when we factor in what has taken place in the Senate and its committees, the hours of debate in second reading and third reading, the committee hearings and the special committee hearings.

An amazing amount of consultation has taken place, in particular, with the current minister responsible for the legislation. I know the parliamentary secretary to this particular ministry has done a phenomenal job in terms of reaching out and explaining the many complicated aspects of this legislation, and comparing it with what had taken place previously.

The issue of medical assistance in dying has been on the floor of the House and in our communities for years. We are in this position now because of a specific superior court ruling from the province of Quebec. I think the deadline is now the end of the month. This is the second or third, and final, extension, as has been made very clear. I believe that we need to have legislation dealing with medical assistance in dying and that it needs to comply with our courts. I very much support the rule of law in our democratic system.

I understand there are extremes on either side of the issue. There are those who, for personal and passionate reasons, believe that we should not have the legislation and those who, for personal and passionate reasons, believe that we have to have the legislation. I have chosen the side of supporting the legislation. I made that determination for a number of reasons. I respect the debates that have taken place over the years. I have seen tears on the floor of the House of Commons as MPs plead their position on MAID, at times with a great deal of passion. It is not easy for many, if not all, members of Parliament to ultimately make that determination.

We have heard from our constituents by email, by Canada Post, by telephone and by public meeting. Many of our constituents are following this issue and want us to make a decision from their viewpoint. What I have often found when speaking to constituents is that they understand why we are in the position we are in today. Some would ultimately not want to see this legislation pass, period. They are prepared to use whatever mechanisms they can. I am referring, in particular, to members of the official opposition. They will take whatever actions they can to prevent the passage of this legislation.

When asking a question of the Minister of Justice earlier, I indicated I had listened to many hours of debate on this issue, and I had posed questions to other members.

Let it be put on the record clearly that I believe there are members within the Conservative caucus who do not want this legislation to pass, period. End of story. As a whole, the Conservative Party has taken the position that it wants to continue debate and has somehow drawn the conclusion that it is inappropriate for the government to move closure. I want to highlight two aspects of that, because I think it is very misleading for the Conservatives to try to give the impression in any way that the Government of Canada has not been listening to Canadians, or is trying to ram through legislation.

First, we are in a minority government. We could not be doing this without the support of a majority of the members sitting in the House of Commons. That means that many opposition members are supporting the need to allow this legislation to come to a vote. I suspect, when it does come to a vote, that some of the Conservatives who voted against allowing it to come to a vote will vote in favour of the legislation, so the Conservatives are using the rules to try to prevent that. It is important to recognize that it is not just the government saying the official opposition is being irresponsible with respect to this legislation.

Second, the Conservatives are saying they want more debate and that is what this is all about. They do not want the government to bring in closure. That is just not true. That is not the case. I do not believe that for a moment. Those who are following the debate need to understand and appreciate that the Conservative Party of Canada was offered not once, not twice, but on three separate occasions the opportunity to continue to debate this issue for hours on the floor of the House of Commons. The Conservatives said no to every opportunity they were provided for additional debate. That clearly demonstrates that the Conservative Party is not interested in having more debate time; rather, it wants to filibuster this legislation. In one sense, the Conservatives would be very happy if we debated this bill every day. If we accommodated their so-called desire, they would criticize us for not having more debate on other government bills.

There is a finite amount of time on the floor of the House of Commons. In my opinion, the Conservative Party continues to abuse the opportunity to allow for healthy debate. With Bill C-7, we are talking about life and death. There are examples I could give that further show what I believe has been a very destructive attitude by the Conservative Party of Canada when it comes to the proceedings in the House.

If it were not for shaming the Conservative Party of Canada, some of the legislation and other things that have taken place in the last 24 hours would not have occurred. If Canadians understood the tactics the Conservative Party is using, I believe they would be outraged.

Today is about life or death and Bill C-7. On other occasions, and I would cite Bill C-14 as an excellent example, there were hours and days of debate. I suspect there were probably more days of debate on Bill C-14 than there were on a budget bill, and more speakers than on a budget bill. Conservatives wanted to talk it out. I believe we finally got it through because they were shamed into doing so.

Bill C-7, as I indicated at the beginning, concerns a complex and deeply personal issue. It is about reducing suffering, among other things. In previous debates on this issue, I have shared with the House my own experiences of the passing of my father at Riverview and of my grandmother in palliative care at St. Boniface Hospital.

In these debates, there has been a great deal of discussion about what else we could do. For example, the importance of hospice care and the issues of long-term care, recognizing the federal government has a role to play in those areas—

Motion in Relation to Senate AmendmentsCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2021 / 4:50 p.m.
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Green

Jenica Atwin Green Fredericton, NB

Madam Speaker, the parliamentary secretary mentioned thousands of hours of debate around Bill C-14 and Bill C-7.

Would the member not agree that, in comparison, when we are talking about this amendment about mental health or those who are mentally ill having access to MAID, that such a little amount of time has been given to debate such a large expansion of the definition of MAID?

Could the member comment on the discrepancy between the thousands of hours that went into the beginning stages of this bill and the short timeframe we have been given for this new piece of legislation that is a critical component that, I think, we need more time for?

Motion in Relation to Senate AmendmentsCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2021 / 4:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Rob Moore Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for South Surrey—White Rock.

Madam Speaker, it has been very interesting to hear the Liberal speakers today on this sad day when the Liberals have brought in closure on what is a very important life-or-death amendment from the Senate, and to hear the Liberals spinning their wheels and making up excuses and pretending that past studies on other bills dealing with medical assistance in dying somehow should be taken and counted in support of the huge expansion suggested by the Senate, which has only had a very few hours of consideration in the House before this closure motion today.

For those who are watching, closure by the government means that members of Parliament will not be able to further debate or further study the application of medical assistance in dying to those suffering with mental illness.

It is important to have a bit of context on this because when the Minister of Justice appeared at our justice committee when we were studying this bill, we did not hear from those in the community dealing with suicide prevention and with mental illness because that was not an aspect of the bill. The minister at the time said that there was no consensus in Canada when it comes to mental illness, and there was no consensus among physicians when it comes to mental illness; yet now, a few months later, the Liberals are ramming this through today in a very unfortunate and contemptuous way.

I expect that desperation we hear in the voices of Liberal members is because they are getting the same emails, phone calls and messages that the rest of us are getting. These messages are from those who are fighting for vulnerable people, those who are fighting for people with depression and people suffering from mental illness, saying, “Please do not pass this Senate, and now Liberal government, amendment”.

From the beginning the government has mismanaged this issue. The Liberals say that Bill C-7 was originally aimed at responding to the Quebec Superior Court decision from 2019. Conservatives, at the time, said very clearly that the government should defend its law and should have appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. Instead, the Minister of Justice, who himself voted against Bill C-14 on medical assistance in dying because it did not go far enough, saw this as an opportunity to rapidly expand the medical assistance in dying regime under the cover of responding to that Quebec court decision.

I disagree with the position of the Liberals not to appeal this to the Supreme Court. As the Conservatives said, that would have given Parliament clarity on how to legislate going forward. However, the Liberals took the highly unusual approach of not defending their own legislation. If the Liberals simply wanted to respond to the Quebec court decision, they would and could have done that. They chose not to do that. Instead, today, they are trying to ram through this bill that goes dramatically beyond that. It is very clear that the Liberal government sees the work of Parliament as a nuisance and that anything other than complete acceptance of its legislation must be opposed.

When this bill was first introduced just over a year ago, it was done one week after the government had already asked for its first extension from the Quebec court decision. Therefore, the Liberals were already failing to meet the court deadline that they said was their goal. Then, rather than introduce a bill that simply addressed the Quebec court decision, the Liberals introduced a far more expansive bill that requires a significantly greater amount of scrutiny by Parliament.

Under Bill C-14, the government's original MAID legislation, a legislative review was required five years after the bill received royal assent. That was scheduled to take place last year. This review would have looked at the impacts of Bill C-14 and would have provided insight on how to proceed forward. Let me be clear: Rather than allow Parliament to do that work first, the government decided to expand MAID legislation in Bill C-7. Again, rather than simply responding to the court decision and allowing Parliament to do the work necessary to study this issue, the Liberals overreacted and brought in expansive new legislation.

The government ended up receiving an extension from March 11 to July 11, 2020, and, with the COVID outbreak, Parliament's scrutiny was limited for a number of months. As time ticked toward July 11, it was apparent that yet again the Liberals would not be able to ram their bill through Parliament, and another extension was requested on June 11, this time for December 18, 2020. When Parliament eventually resumed in September 2020, we could have had the opportunity to debate Bill C-7, but of course we were, ironically, prevented from doing so by the Liberals who are now so keen on passing Bill C-7, because they prorogued Parliament, wiping the legislative slate clean. We all know this was done to avoid scrutiny of the WE scandal to protect the Prime Minister and other senior members of cabinet.

Based on the communications over the past couple of days, one would expect that the Liberals may have had a sense of urgency to reintroduce Bill C-7, instead they did not introduce Bill C-7 again in the first week or the second week. It took the Liberals until the third week of Parliament after they prorogued to actually reintroduce Bill C-7.

The Liberals have set themselves up time and time again to miss their own deadlines, and they have set themselves up for failure, but now there is this rapid rush. however, as has been pointed out, this is an entirely new bill that has come back from the Senate because it includes what was explicitly excluded by our House of Commons, which is made up of elected members of Parliament from all across this country. The mental illness component was specifically and deliberately excluded, and now it is being added in.

By including mental illness as a sole underlying condition to be eligible for MAID, the government wants to expand MAID even further in a way that is a complete 180° turn from Bill C-7 as it was introduced a year ago. This is a completely different bill than was originally debated in the House. As the vice-chair of the justice committee, I know we did not seek to hear from experts on this topic because the government's bill explicitly said expanding medical death to those with mental illness was not being considered. Now, at this last stage of the bill, the government is recklessly accepting a dramatic expansion of the bill, an expansion to which the Minister of Justice himself said there was no consensus.

What are people saying on this mental illness issue? It is unfortunate because Canadians are not going to be able to be engaged and participate in this conversation before we vote on the matter tonight. However, for those of us who are listening, the CEO of the Mental Health Association sounded alarm bells in an article urging all members of Parliament to please vote against the Senate amendments. Her point in the article is that MAID should not be broadened to those with mental illness until at least the health care system adequately responds to mental health needs of Canadians.

She highlights that it is not possible to determine whether any particular case of mental illness represents an advance state of decline and capabilities that cannot be reversed. She concluded her article writing, “We have to cure our ailing mental health system in Canada before we even begin to consider mental illness incurable.”

In a CBC, Dr. Mark Sinyor, a psychiatrist and associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto recently wrote, “As a scientist, I have to be open to the possibility that all of the claims advanced by MAID advocates are accurate. But enacting law, one which literally governs life or death decisions, based on a possibility isn't good enough.”

He continued, “In other areas of medicine, thoughtful scientists typically devote whole careers to meticulously studying benefits and harms of treatments before rolling them out. Here, that proven approach has inexplicably been replaced with hand-waving and moralizing.”

We know that it is our job as members of Parliament to study these things and hear about them at committee from experts, those that are directly impacted, before passing new legislation. We heard this week at a press conference from Wayne Wegner. He told his story of struggling with mental illness. Wayne had a series of difficulties in life that led him to a very dark place, and he urged members of Parliament to please vote against this legislation.

In conclusion, this is not how we should be operating. We should not be dealing with closure today. We should be listening to persons with disabilities and persons suffering from mental illness issues and their advocates. We should all do our jobs as members of Parliament and listen first before we act. That is our duty.

Motion in Relation to Senate AmendmentsCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

March 11th, 2021 / 5:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Rob Moore Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Madam Speaker, as the parliamentary secretary knows, even as late as today at the justice committee, Liberals rejected an opportunity for us to hear from mental illness professionals, from those who would be impacted by this legislation, and that is our job. We are listening.

I received a letter signed by 129 organizations, such as Inclusion Canada, the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association and the DisAbled Women's Network. There are 129 organizations asking us to please support the Conservative amendment, and please do not include mental illness as a grounds for someone to receive assisted dying.

We need to listen to the experts first, and the parliamentary secretary knows that we have not done that. We had committee meetings on Bill C-7, but this was not part of Bill C-7 when we had those meetings.