An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THIS IS THE LAST DAY to fill out a survey from the federal government on medical assistance in dying.
It’s an important one. Medical assistance in dying has been available to Canadians since 2016 but one of the eligibility criteria — that there must be “a reasonable foreseeability of natural death” — is under legal challenge.
A Quebec court ruled it’s unconstitutional to limit access to medically assisted dying to those at the imminent end of life, and the feds have committed to changing the law across the country to conform with that decision.
Since legalization, more than 6,700 people have used medically assisted dying to end their suffering. Hence, the questionnaire to help figure out how to bring the law into line before the March 11 deadline set by the court.
Response to the survey has been so strong that technical issues have arisen on the website, but if you haven’t filled it out yet, it’s worth getting on there before the end of the day.
It provides some good information on eligibility for MAID, as it’s called, and asks questions about safeguards against abuse as well as the issue of reasonable foreseeability.
The original intent of reasonable foreseeability can be met with effective provisions for assessment and consultation. It’s not fair to prevent someone who has a degenerative physical illness as well as, for example, early stages of dementia, from accessing medically assisted dying.
They might well have the ability to make a decision now but, when their cognitive abilities decline, they won’t.
Fourteen days is a short time for Canadians to have been given the opportunity to weigh in, but it is what it is. Everyone who is suffering should have the right to a dignified death. Check out the survey.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He writes five commentaries a week for CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.