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Thursday Thinkpiece: Downie on Pathways to Law Reform for Voluntary Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

Each Thursday we present a significant excerpt, usually from a recently published book or journal article. In every case the proper permissions have been obtained. If you are a publisher who would like to participate in this feature, please let us know via the site’s contact form.

Permitting Voluntary Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Law Reform Pathways for Common Law Jurisdictions

Jocelyn Downie, SJD, FRSC, FCAHS; Professor, Faculties of Law and Medicine, Dalhousie University
Queensland University of Technology Law Review Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 84-112

Excerpt: Introduction and Sections III-VI | Footnotes omitted. They can be found in the . . . [more]

Posted in: Thursday Thinkpiece

We Don’t Need Another Morgentaler in Canada on Assisted Suicide

The purpose of government, when it is functioning properly, is to pass laws. These laws should be carefully contemplated, debated, and revised before drafting.

But sometimes there’s a greater urgency in this function, which has arose in the aftermath of Carter v. Canada, where the Court ruled in February of this year:

 

Section 241 (b) and s. 14  of the Criminal Code  unjustifiably infringe s. 7  of the Charter  and are of no force or effect to the extent that they prohibit physician-assisted death for a competent adult person who (1) clearly consents to the termination

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Legislation

Update: Bill 52, Assisted Suicide Bill Passes Third Reading

The Quebec National Assembly has adopted a historic “right-to-die” legislation (94-22 margin/0 Abstention), the first in Canada. All 22 votes against Bill 52 were from Liberal members, including 10 cabinet ministers. The Bill gives terminally ill adult patients in the province of Quebec, who are of sound mind, the right to palliative care and medical assistance to die in exceptional circumstances and safeguards.
Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation

All Quebec Parties Agree to Re-Table Assisted Suicide Bill and Motion Raising Question of Public Interest

On May 22, 2014, with the approval of all four of Quebec’s major political parties, the newly elected Liberal government re-introduced Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care at the same stage as before the election.
Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

British Columbia’s Civil Liberties Association Files Lawsuit Challenging Laws Against Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

While Quebec is consulting and holding public hearings on euthanasia and assisted suicide, on April 26, 2011, British Columbia’s Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and three other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in BC’s Supreme Court challenging Canada’s Criminal Code provisions against euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation

Federal Government Appealing BC Supreme Court’s Assisted-Suicide Ruling

Following our previous Slaw post, were we commented on the June 15 British Columbia Supreme Court ruling that struck down the Criminal Code ban on physician-assisted suicide. Without being surprised, on July 14, 2012, we learn that the federal government has decided to appeal that decision.
Posted in: Case Comment, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Challenging the Quebec End-of-Life Legislation and Medically-Assisted Dying in Truchon

In Truchon c. Attorney General of Canada, 2019 QCCS 3792 (CanLII), a decision of the Quebec Superior Court, The Honourable Christine Baudouin, JCS held that the end of life requirement under section 26 of Quebec’s End-of-Life Care Act and the “reasonable foreseeability of natural death” requirement under the Criminal Code‘s medically-assisted death requirement are both unconstitutional as contravening section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (and that the federal provision contravenes section 7; she did not consider whether the Quebec provision contavened section 7). The facts underpinning the challenges were the same. Nevertheless, should the . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation

Thoughts on Advanced Directives for Assisted Dying

The enactment of Canada’s medically assisted dying legislation in June 2017 left three areas in particular outstanding: whether mature minors could seek a medically assisted death, whether medically assisted death would be available when the reason for seeking it is mental illness and whether an individual could provide for an advance directive for a medically assisted death when they were no longer able to consent.

Here I make some remarks about advance directives, using the report from the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA), which had been given the responsibility by the government to gather information about the three issues (the . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Assisted Dying Finally Becomes Law

After pushing it through the Senate on Friday morning, the House of Commons finally voted for Bill C-14 on Friday afternoon. The Department of Justice has created a Q&A page on the Bill and some of the related issue.

The Senate attempted to modify Bill C-14 to adjust the issue of reasonable foreseeability, but were unsuccessful in doing so. This issue was especially important in light of a recent decision by the Alberta Court of Appeal, which indicated this criteria was not necessary under the 2015 Carter decision.

The Department of Justice has responded to this concern in an . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation

Physician Assisted Death Exception Doesn’t Require Terminal Illness

Following the extension to develop assisted dying legislation, provincial courts have scrambled to meet the special exemptions created by the courts.

The first provincial application under this exemption was Re HS in February 2016, where the motion judge described her role in such an application,

 

[51] … The role of this Court is limited to applying or authorizing an existing constitutional exemption and determining whether a particular person qualifies for that exemption…

The process for doing so would be to apply the criteria enunciated by the Court in the 2015 Carter decision at para 127 to a a . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions