Medical aid to die: Ottawa gets five more months

Aide médicale à mourir: Ottawa obtient cinq mois de plus

Aide médicale à mourir: Ottawa obtient cinq mois de plus

John Truchon and Nicole Gladu, these two Quebecers suffering from serious degenerative diseases to be incurable have led the legal battle in recent years.


29 June 2020 17: 14

Updated at 18h22


Medical aid to die: Ottawa gets five more months

Stéphanie Marin

The Canadian Press

Ottawa has just obtained a further period of five months to bring its legislation in conformity with the judgement that quebec has expanded the medical assistance to die, abolishing the requirement of death, “reasonably foreseeable”.

The federal government will have until 18 December 2020 to run, has allowed the justice Frédéric Bachand, the Quebec superior Court in its ruling made on Monday afternoon. A quick judgment, considering that Ottawa has pleaded its request last Friday.

This is the second report obtained by the federal government. This time, he relied on the COVID-19 to explain why he has not had time to change its legislation.

In the meantime, those who meet all the criteria, but whose death is not “reasonably foreseeable”, can’t get medical help to die – at least to present themselves before the Court to obtain a judicial authorization. The judge Bachand reiterated this possibility.

Last September, judge Christine Baldwin of the superior Court had invalidated the requirement of “death reasonably foreseeable” written in the criminal Code, declaring it unconstitutional, just like that of the quebec act, which provided that medical aid to die is only accessible to those “who are in end-of-life”.

By doing this, the judge had opened the medical assistance to die to a greater number of people, such as John Truchon and Nicole Gladu, two Quebecers who led the legal battle in recent years. Patients with serious degenerative diseases are incurable, their death was not reasonably foreseeable.

The judge Baudouin was, however, suspended the declaration of invalidity of these two criteria during a period of six months, to give time to the federal and provincial governments to amend their laws to conform to its judgment.

The government of Québec has complied with the judgment. He has chosen not to touch his “Act respecting end of life care”, stating rather that the criterion of “end of life” is now inoperative.

Ottawa has decided to proceed differently : it has introduced in February a bill to amend the criminal Code.

Except that it has not managed to adopt its draft law within six months.

The context of a pandemic

First, he relied on the federal elections, which have suspended the Parliament and therefore the time available for parliamentary work. He had then obtained a four-month period, until 11 July.

And last Friday, he pleaded that the pandemic COVID-19 has also stopped the work in Ottawa, not leaving enough time for members to study and adopt the draft law. It took five more months, it comes to obtain.

The lawyer of Mr. Truchon and Mrs. Gladu, Me Jean-Pierre Ménard, had not objected to the request for more time, given the context of a pandemic, “an unpredictable situation”. It was, however, the period is too long for the suffering people who were waiting for the 11 July with impatience.

Although he recognized the possibility for these persons to obtain judicial authorization, mr. Ménard noted that, due to the costs that this entails, some might not be unable to invoke it.

“The pandemic of the COVID-19, that is shaking up our lives since mid-march, is without doubt a change of circumstance that militates in favour of the continuance sought by the Attorney general of Canada, is it written in the judgement. The impact on the federal Parliament have been major, as its members chose to limit their activities in order that he might devote himself almost exclusively to the adoption of legislative measures related to the pandemic.”

The judge Bachand note, however, that there was no guarantee that the federal bill is adopted by the 18 December.

The judge Baudouin was granted to Mr. Truchon and Mrs. Gladu a constitutional exemption, which meant that they could get the help of a doctor to end their days, despite the suspension of disability criteria.

Mr. Truchon has prevailed in April. The Judge Bachand has renewed the exemption for Ms. Gladu.

The canadian Parliament will resume its activities on September 21.

Le Soleil

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