Politics

Court grants third extension for assisted dying legislation

The Superior Court of Quebec has just granted a two-month extension for the federal government to pass new legislation on medical assistance in dying (MAID.)

Bill C-7 removes 'reasonably foreseeable death' as a requirement for MAID

The federal government has received a two-month extension to pass Bill C-7, legislation which expands access to medical assistance in dying. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

The Superior Court of Quebec has granted the federal government a two-month extension on its deadline to pass new legislation on medical assistance in dying (MAID.)

The government now has until until Feb. 26, 2021 to pass C-7, which expands access to MAID by removing the requirement that death be "reasonably foreseeable."

That requirement was struck down by the Superior Court as unconstitutional in September 2019. Before today, the Liberal government had already requested and received two extensions by the court to enact new legislation to conform with the ruling.

C-7 passed in the House of Commons last week but did not clear the Senate before the Red Chamber rose for the holiday break today.

Conservatives and advocacy groups for Canadians with disabilities oppose C-7, arguing it fails to protect vulnerable people such as the elderly and those with physical or intellectual disabilities.

Conservative justice critic Rob Moore said Parliament must take the necessary time to carefully scrutinize the bill.

Parliament can't 'rubber-stamp' bill: Moore

"By refusing to appeal the court decision, then proroguing Parliament and stalling on the reintroduction of C-7, the Liberals have failed to meet their target. In their arrogance, the Liberals expected Parliament to simply rubber-stamp this bill on life-and-death," he said in a media statement.

"Canada's Conservatives put forward reasonable amendments that would have addressed the concerns raised by persons with disabilities. We will continue to advocate for changes to protect the vulnerable in Canada."

Had the government been denied another extension by the court, it would have left a disconnect between the law in Quebec and elsewhere in the country. People in Quebec would have had a legal right to assisted death without foreseeable death being a requirement, while the rest of Canadians would not have access to the broader eligibility criteria.

Justice Minister David Lametti warned that would create a situation where Quebecers would have expanded access to MAID without the safeguards to protect vulnerable people that are included in Bill C-7.

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