Letter to Minister of Justice on Truchon c. Procureur général du Canada

01 October 2019

The Hon. David Lametti
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H8

Dear Minister,

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) is gravely concerned about the decision by Justice Baudouin of the Quebec Superior Court on September 11, in Truchon c. Procureur général du Canada, which struck down the safeguard that a person’s death must be “reasonably foreseeable” in order for them to be eligible for medical assistance in dying (MAID).

Out of our deep concern for human life and dignity, and for the protection of vulnerable Canadians, the EFC was a co-intervener in the Carter case before the Supreme Court of Canada.

In the Carter decision, the Supreme Court accepted the conclusion of the lower court judge that “the risks inherent in permitting physician-assisted death can be identified and very substantially minimized through a carefully-designed system imposing stringent limits that are scrupulously monitored and enforced” (para. 883). The Supreme Court invited Parliament to legislate stringent safeguards, noting that “Complex regulatory regimes are better created by Parliament than by the courts” (para 125).

We engaged in the legislative consultations on the government’s response to the decision every step of the way, including appearing before the special joint committee on physician-assisted dying and making submissions to parliamentary committees on Bill C-14.

While we remain firmly opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide, we continue to advocate for the strongest possible safeguards to minimize the risks to vulnerable Canadians inherent in any system which legalizes these practices.

Changes to the MAID safeguards put in place by Bill C-14 are weighty and substantive considerations to work through; these are matters of life and death. Repeal of the requirement that a person’s death be “reasonably foreseeable” will have direct and substantial consequences for those who are particularly vulnerable, such as Canadians living with disability or chronic illness.

Many Canadians with disabilities already face significant difficulty in obtaining health care and support. Too often, the message they receive from society and sometimes even from members of the medical community is that disability diminishes the value and quality of their lives, or worse, means their lives are less worth living. They are at risk of feelings of isolation and despair, or of feeling like a burden to family or caregivers and to the medical system. Media reports indicate that people with disabilities are already being offered medical assistance in dying when the person has no desire to end their life.

It is essential that the government affirm the inherent and equal value of every person’s life, regardless of ability or health, and maintain stringent safeguards to protect vulnerable Canadians from harm or coercion. We must also work toward making support and high quality care available to all Canadians.

We urge you to vigorously defend the federal safeguards put in place in Bill C-14 and to appeal the Truchon decision. It is essential that these safeguards be upheld.

Julia Beazley
Director, Public Policy

Note: Learn more on this issue in our Oct. 1 blog post. Canadians who want to ask Minister Lametti to appeal the Quebec decision should do so at [email protected] before October 11. You can use the EFC’s letter above or these samples (either .docx or .pdf) to help write your own letter.