OCT 18, 2023 UPDATE: The vote today failed to pass, but it was close, with the entire NDP and Conservative caucuses supporting Ed Fast’s Bill. For more on the vote, see ARPA Canada’s update here.
Welcome to Reformed Perspective. I’m Alexandra Ellison.
In March of 2021, Parliament passed Bill C-7, which amended the criminal code, changing the provisions for doctor-assisted suicide in Canada. Medical Assistance in Dying, otherwise known as MAiD, became available to those whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable. It also expanded euthanasia to become available for those with mental illness to come into effect in March of 2023.
Last March, the federal government delayed the mental illness provision of Bill C-7 by one year, promising to create safeguards. However, they have yet to act on this promise.
Today, we bring you a critical development in this ongoing debate. Conservative Member of Parliament Ed Fast is putting forth Bill C-314, aimed at stopping the Canadian government from expanding euthanasia to those suffering solely from mental illness.
Ed Fast: “Well, this is an existential issue for Canadians because it’s quite a step to expand Canada’s assisted suicide laws to the most vulnerable in our society, the mentally ill being among the most prominent of those. I want to make sure the mentally ill are protected against government overreach. We know that they are intensely vulnerable to abuse, and we want to make sure that Canada’s [euthanasia] laws do not extend to the degree that those most vulnerable Canadians risk unnecessary death, and needlessly die.”
On October 3, the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition hosted a press conference in support of Bill C-314. Anike Morrison is a recent graduate of an Ontario university, whose passion for advocating this bill stems from her own experience with mental health.
Anike Morrison: “I have gone through quite a bit when it comes to my mental health, and I’ve had some really hard times. But I am coming through the other side of that, and I can say from personal experience it gets better. And I am living proof that with help, with counseling, therapy, family and friend support, medical care, that you can actually come out through that other side of a dark period of time without having to take your own life, or without having to leave your family and friends grieving for the loss of your life. You can actually get better and enjoy life.”
Whether the bill passes or not, Morrison hopes this will open the conversation about euthanasia nationally and internationally.
Anike Morrison: “I’ve been hearing that Canadians across the country are in support of Bill C-314. So I’m hoping that that movement and progress carries the Bill to be passed. But even if it is not, I’m hoping for increased conversation around medical assistance in dying in Canada, and even internationally, and having a national discussion about what is appropriate, and what is merciful, and what is truly helpful for our society, and what, maybe is going too far.”
Dr. Paul Sabba is a family physician in Quebec who has been advocating for pro-life policies. In 2020, he wrote a book called Made to Live reflecting personal stories and debunking the myths of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Dr. Paul Sabba: “For example, if I refer a patient to a psychiatrist here in Quebec, it’s about a 5-month waiting time from the time I make the referral to the time they actually get treatment. In the present legislation, which will be coming into effect for people with mental disorders here in Canada in March of 2024 – people will have access to be euthanized – there’s only a three-month waiting period. We don’t end the person’s life because they have a disorder, or health or mental challenge, or are in distress. We have to help them in that distress. We have to meet what their needs are. That’s our goal. That’s the idea of the Good Samaritan; you don’t leave the person half dead. You care for them. You treat them. We make every attempt to bring them to wellness, as close to wellness as you can, and find out what their needs are.”
Bill C-314 is currently at its second reading, with a vote scheduled for October 18 to see if it will go on to further study.
Ed Fast: “I’m hoping that cooler heads will prevail and that members of all parties in the House of Commons will understand what’s at stake here – the lives of the most vulnerable in Canada – and that they will support my Bill.”
The reality is the general public is in opposition to the government’s expansions to euthanasia. According to the most recent Angus Reid Institute survey, just 28% of Canadians are in favor of MAiD for individuals with mental illness, while a significant 82% of Canadians emphasized that enhancing mental health care should be a priority before considering MAiD.
For Reformed Perspective, I’m Alexandra Ellison in Ottawa.
Other RP euthanasia resources
For resources on how to understand and respond to arguments for euthanasia, check out the articles below.