Madam Speaker, before I get started, I will let you know I am splitting my time with the member for Markham—Stouffville.
Today, I have the opportunity to participate in this debate on Bill C-7 from my riding in Guelph. Before I get going on the debate, I would like to recognize that Guelph is situated on the ancestral homelands of the Anishinabe people, specifically the traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.
I am proud our government has brought forward a bill that proposes changes that respond to the Superior Court of Quebec's September 2019 Truchon ruling. The proposed changes were informed by concerns and issues raised during consultations earlier this year in discussions with provincial, territorial and indigenous partners. As a result, we have had careful consideration of past experience with MAID in Canada.
I recognize medical assistance in dying is a deeply personal and complex issue. I have heard extensive feedback from my constituents on this topic as recently as this morning. During today's debate, we are hearing very personal stories from MPs that are very similar to what we heard when we first brought forward the legislation in Bill C-14. There are arguments for and against, which we need to recognize and look at.
Some of my constituents who have shared their support for these amendments and the swift passage of this bill have noted to me the importance of dying with dignity, as well as consistent and equal accessibility for all Canadians, as part of what our legislation needs to provide.
Earlier this year, I had a constituent reach out to me and share her personal story regarding medical assistance in dying. She told me that she felt very strongly about this issue because her husband of 56 years, John, had passed last December after four years of battling an illness and how appreciative she was that we had taken some first steps toward addressing these issues. She told me about the vibrant man John was, with a big heart, a successful career and an impressive education. She told me they had conversations about getting old together and how they would deal with aging, but these discussions did not include suffering or what might happen if the pain became too great. As John's illness progressed, he was moved into a long-term care facility where he spent the rest of his life. It was there that she saw so many others who were unable to be independent. She was saddened to see there was no dignity for these people, or for her husband John, as they were no longer able to look after their own personal needs. I saw this myself with my mother as she went through care in her last 10 years of life. The story of my constituent was one that conveys the importance of providing a diverse end-of-life option for Canadians that will help them provide the right decisions to be able to end their days with dignity, comfort and peace of mind.
Of course, there are two sides to this debate. I have heard from other people and received a lot of feedback that they understand we are coming at this as a deeply personal and sensitive topic for everyone, but are concerned these new amendments may impact the disability community, something we have discussed in the debate today, and the conscience rights of medical practitioners or our work toward improving palliative care. They all really do stitch together. While I am sympathetic to these concerns, I am also pleased to see our new legislation strikes the right balance of autonomy and protection of vulnerable people. This is thanks to many disability advocates who have participated actively throughout the consultation process, including specific round tables that focused on issues faced by the disability community. As was mentioned earlier in the debate, 300,000 people had input throughout the month of January 2020 to help us get to where we are today.
Additionally, our law specifically acknowledges the conscience rights of health care providers and the role they play in providing medical assistance in dying. These new amendments do not make changes to these rights and I know we will continue to work with provinces and territories to support access to medical assistance in dying while also respecting the personal convictions of health care providers.
However, the most common concern I have heard from my constituents is the need to prioritize palliative care over medical assistance in dying.
It is really the end-of-life care that we are talking about in both cases. In palliative care, Canadians are approaching the end of their life, and they deserve to receive care in the setting of their choice and to live out their days in comfort and dignity. They also deserve the freedom to make this fundamental decision about life and death without fear of their personal choice being obstructed by politics or government.
In Guelph, we are very blessed to have a wonderful palliative care facility that has been growing over the years as people recognize this as an option towards the end-of-life care that they are looking for.
However, 70% of Canadians are left without access to adequate palliative care. We have the responsibility to act in the interests of patients and their families, which is why our government supports access to both palliative care and medical assistance in dying. End-of-life issues are as diverse as Canadians themselves, and these issues also change throughout the course of medical needs and procedures that are available.
It is our responsibility as a government to provide as many options as possible for Canadians, so that they can take these deeply personal choices and make them on their own. That is why our government has worked collaboratively with partners, such as the provinces and territories, to develop a framework on palliative care. To support this framework, our government is implementing a targeted action plan that will help to improve access to palliative care for underserved populations; support families, health care providers and communities; and look at the funding that is needed to be able to execute our plans.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Hospice Wellington and its executive director, Pat Stuart for the amazing work they do to support our most vulnerable citizens, including through palliative care.
I would also like to thank the constituents of Guelph who have personally reached out to me over the last several months to share their feedback, suggestions and personal stories around medical assistance in dying. I look forward to continuing to engage with my colleagues on this important subject and with my constituents, so that we can work to create a system that is responsive to the needs of patients, and creates an environment that can create comfort and reassurance for patients and their families.