Federal Consultation on “Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) Eligibility Criteria and Request Process”

January 23, 2020

Your Eminences/Your Excellencies,

On Monday, 13 January 2020, the Government of Canada, through the Department of Justice, launched a two-week general public consultation on the expansion of eligibility for assisted suicide – euthanasia (“Medical Assistance in Dying”, commonly referred to as MAID) following the September 2019 Superior Court of Québec ruling that found it unconstitutional to limit access to MAID only to people nearing the end of life. The Government of Canada has not appealed the Québec court ruling, but instead has indicated it would be prepared to change the law for the entire country.

While the Government previously committed to a full review of the legislation five years after it was passed (June 2016-June 2021), the present consultation targets one specific component of the legislation (“Eligibility Criteria”) and is intended to help the Government form its response to the Québec court ruling. Canadians are being invited to share their views (online or PDF) by the close of the consultation period on Monday, 27 January 2020, at 11:59 p.m. (PST).

Online English: https://justice.survey-sondage.ca/f/s.aspx?s=6E6210A5-E100-4201-A55D-CFB52ADA1C0C

Online French: https://justice.survey-sondage.ca/f/s.aspx?s=6E6210A5-E100-4201-A55D-CFB52ADA1C0C&lang=FR

PDF English: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cons/ad-am/survey_maid_eng.pdf

PDF French: https://www.justice.gc.ca/fra/cons/am-ad/survey_maid_fra.pdf

The questions in the survey do not ask whether or not euthanasia/assisted suicide should be expanded to include persons with disabilities; that instead is assumed.

The only direct questions in the survey regard whether or not a person should be allowed euthanasia/assisted suicide by means of his or her own advance directives or whether the Government’s current “safeguards” are sufficient to prevent abuse, pressure, or other kinds of misuse of MAID once eligibility is broadened to people whose deaths are not reasonably foreseeable.

However, there is space within three sections of the survey for comments to be made, which could include, for example: expressions of concern about expanding access to euthanasia/assisted suicide because of pressures on or abuse of vulnerable persons (including minors, the depressed, the mentally ill, the disabled); the inadequacy of the so-called “safeguards”; advocacy for better and stronger safeguards; and the urgent need for viable options to MAID that would be possible through more adequate government funding and support for palliative care, home care, and hospices.

Bishops may wish to post information about the consultation on their diocesan/eparchial website and distribute it to their parishes, missions, Catholic organizations, and anyone else for whom it may be of interest, inviting them to share their views by completing the questionnaire and including their own comments.

A message will likewise be posted to the CCCB website to inform the general public of the CCCB’s previous statements on assisted suicide/euthanasia and also provide links to the consultation. For your current purposes, you may wish to bring to the attention of your faithful some or all of the resources provided on the assisted suicide/euthanasia web page of the CCCB website:

–  in English, at https://www.cccb.ca/site/eng/media-room/euthanasia-and-assisted-suicide

–   in French, at https://www.cccb.ca/site/frc/salle-de-presse/leuthanasie-et-le-suicide-assiste 

The CCCB is also exploring the possibility of sending a letter to Government officials of which you would be duly informed.

Sincerely yours in Jesus with Mary,

Msgr. Frank Leo, Jr.

General Secretary