Mr. Speaker, on May 2, I rose in the House to ask questions about the impartiality of the working group set up by the government to study the issue of advance requests and broadening eligibility for medical assistance in dying.
The appointment of Dr. Harvey Schipper as chair of the working group was accepted by the minister, even though Dr. Schipper opposed medical assistance in dying and advance requests.
This appointment was also criticized by several stakeholders. Even though Dr. Harvey Schipper stepped down from his position and was replaced by Marie Deschamps, the issue of medical assistance in dying, and especially advance requests, is still current.
The former health minister, the hon. member for Markham—Stouffville, promised to strike committees to study the issue of incapacity and advance requests, cases where medical assistance in dying was denied and not administered in the past year, and the issue of mature minors, to determine if a minor suffering from an incurable or painful illness can request medical assistance in dying. However, once again, there has been no decisive action from the Liberal government.
Once again, Quebec is ahead of the federal government on this issue. In 2013, it tabled a working group report on incapacity and struck a committee to handle advance requests and broaden eligibility for medical assistance in dying. However, Quebec's efforts are hampered by its compliance with federal legislation, even though it is essential that provinces and territories work in close collaboration with the federal government to avoid an over-hasty approach, as is the case in this situation.
I sat on the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying, and many of our recommendations were not taken into consideration when the federal law was drafted.
I am also concerned about people who are ill and suffering but are no longer able to request medical assistance in dying because they have a mental illness or dementia, such as Alzheimer's-related dementia. A decision needs to be made on the issue of advance consent and whether a person with dementia or mental illness can make an advance request while they are still in full possession of their mental faculties, before the disease progresses.
That is a critical issue that the government must address, particularly following the compassionate killing of Jocelyne Lizotte by her husband. It is also vitally important that citizens have faith in the system and feel as though they have the guidance they need to avoid any possible abuse.
According to Bill C-14, there are many criteria that a person must meet in order to be eligible for medical assistance in dying. For example, they must be at the end of their life, have a serious and incurable illness, be in an advanced state of decline, be enduring physical or psychological suffering, and so on. The most shocking is the criteria of reasonably foreseeable death. The government must clarify that provision, which does not make any sense.
Obviously, we are all going to die one day. The Liberal government is not telling us anything that we do not already know. It is unacceptable that people who are ill have to go back to the courts to assert their right to die in dignity because they do not clearly meet all of the criteria. We must not forget that medical assistance in dying is a right and that those who are ill and suffering and who want to die in dignity do not have the strength to fight for that right.
I am well aware that this is sensitive issue, but doing nothing is not going to solve the problem. When will the Liberal government truly take into account the issues of advance requests, mature minors, and people who are not capable of asking for medical assistance in dying? When will it actually set up those committees? We look forward to seeing results.