British Columbia

Supreme Court rejects appeal to speed up challenge to assisted dying restriction

Canada's top court has rejected a B.C. woman's push to speed up a key assisted dying challenge.

Julia Lamb has been fighting clause that limits assisted dying to death in the 'foreseeable future'

B.C. resident Julia Lamb is in court to fight for the removal of the 'reasonably foreseeable' death requirement in Canada's medically assisted dying law. (B.C. Civil Liberties Association)

A B.C. woman's push to speed up a key assisted dying challenge was rejected by Canada's top court today.

The Supreme Court of Canada instead decided Chilliwack's Julia Lamb and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association will need to wait until Novmber of 2019 for a trial in B.C.'s Supreme Court.

It also ruled the federal government can retry facts that were already proven in a court decision that led to the law Canada now has.

Lamb's challenge was launched more than two years ago when Lamb, who has spinal muscular atrophy, said the law blocks her from an assisted death she may one day want.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association  and Lamb say Canada's assisted dying law is too restrictive and means people like Lamb could suffer in pain for years, because the law states death must be in the "foreseeable future."

In a 2016 news conference, Lamb said her condition could one day cause her extreme pain that could last for years.

"If my symptoms progress in a way that cause me misery, but I remain far from death, the government's new law will force me to suffer," she said.

Appeal process gone on too long: BCCLA


B.C. Civil Liberties Association executive director Josh Paterson said the appeal process has already gone on too long.


"The impact for people is that right now all those people who won the right, but are trapped in years and decades of suffering … they are still trapped in those situations," he said.


Paterson also believes allowing the federal government to retry already proven facts will add further delay.


"We would have to re-argue everything we already argued and established," said Paterson. "It's going to prolong the trial, keep people suffering longer and fundamentally makes it more difficulty for groups like us to have access to justice."



Medically assisted death has been legal in Canada since June 2016.


In 2017, more than 2,700 people had a medically assisted death in the country. The majority of those people suffered from cancer.



To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?