The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) is very troubled by Bill C-7 and the impact it will have on people who may be vulnerable due to medical, economic or social circumstances. Bill C-7 is deeply flawed and unconstitutional
While we remain firmly opposed to hastened death, we advocate for the strongest possible protection and safeguards to minimize the harm and risk to vulnerable Canadians.
We believe the provisions of Bill C-7 and amendments like the sunset clause for the exclusion of mental illness will have a devastating impact.
With the sweeping changes being proposed to the MAID regime, it becomes even more critical to establish strong, clear conscience protection in the Criminal Code
. No one should be compelled to participate in practices to bring about the death of another person, against their deeply held beliefs. This essential protection is missing from Bill C-7.
Senators are known and respected for using their position to give a powerful voice to underrepresented groups, including people with disabilities. Every national disability organization in Canada is calling for MAID to remain restricted to end of life. They point out that Bill C-7 discriminates and violates equality rights by allowing access to hastened death for one identifiable social group, those with disabilities. Last month, UN human rights experts
expressed their alarm over a trend of legislation enabling access to assisted dying on the basis of disability or disabling conditions.
The removal of the end of life criterion was prompted by the decision of one judge in Truchon
and the decision was not tested by higher courts. The Senate can and should recommend an alternative, unambiguous end of life criterion to replace “reasonably foreseeable” death.
If there is concern about the constitutionality of an end of life criterion, it could be tested by asking the Supreme Court to review its constitutionality.
Removing the 10-day reflection period, the requirement for two independent witnesses to a request for MAID and for a person to be able to indicate their consent at the time of hastened death takes away essential safeguards designed to protect people from abuse and pressure.
The Senate amendment of a ‘sunset clause’ of 18 months on the exclusion of mental illness as a sole underlying condition is deeply troubling. A change so significant must not be established by default.
The parliamentary pause due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 illustrates that no one knows what future impediments may prevent parliamentary action.
A sunset clause would pre-empt parliamentary study and not allow Parliamentarians the opportunity to consider specific safeguards, processes or time frames. The Council of Canadian Academies report and the committee study of Bill C-7 have shown that there is no consensus among medical professionals. We strongly urge you not to allow the bill to pass with this amendment.
Given the violations of protected rights in Bill C-7, the removal of protection for vulnerable people and the strong concerns of many Canadians, we urge you not to proceed with Bill C-7. We urge you to defeat the bill at third reading.
Director, Public Policy
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
Author: Julia Beazley