Politics

Quebec court gives Ottawa 4 more months to amend assisted-dying law

A Quebec court has given the federal government more time to amend its assisted-dying legislation.

Superior Court of Quebec ruling last year said current law is too restrictive

Medically assisted dying is only available to patients who are near death, but the federal government is re-examining its legislation after a Quebec court declared parts of it unconstitutional. (Richard Lyons/Shutterstock)

A Quebec court has given the federal government more time to amend its assisted-dying legislation.

Ottawa was facing a March 11 deadline imposed last September by Quebec Superior Court Justice Christine Baudouin when she ruled it is unconstitutional to limit medically assisted death to those whose natural death is "reasonably foreseeable."

Justice Minister David Lametti filed a motion Feb. 17 requesting a four-month extension, acknowledging the government would not be able to meet the deadline, and Baudouin agreed in a ruling today.

She has extended the deadline to July 11, but she makes a provision for those who had been hoping to access medically assisted death as of March 11.

The judge says people who meet the other criteria for the procedure but whose natural death is not "reasonably foreseeable" can apply to a court for an exemption pending the amendments to the law.

The federal government launched public consultations in January, including an online survey that asked whether other hurdles should be added to the law once the foreseeable-death provision is removed, to ensure a balance is maintained between individual rights and protecting vulnerable people from potential abuse.

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