Care Not Kill Campaign Expanding Focus



June 12, 2024
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When Parliament legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide in 2016, many warned of a slippery slope. First legalized as a last resort for those nearing natural death, euthanasia and assisted suicide have since been expanded to people not nearing natural death (2021) and to those with mental illness (scheduled for 2027). In the meantime, safeguards have been removed. Between 2016 and 2022, nearly 45,000 Canadians were euthanized.

Professor John Keown, comparing euthanasia in the Netherlands and Canada, writes, “In 40 years, the Dutch have slid down the slippery slope. In fewer than 10, Canada appears to be veritably skiing.”

Bill C-7

Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying) was introduced in 2020 and received Royal Assent in March 2021. The bill removed the requirement that a person’s natural death be reasonably foreseeable, thus making persons with non-terminal illness eligible for euthanasia. It also created two different sets of safeguards, one for those who were nearing natural death, and another for those who were not. If a person is nearing natural death, they can be fast-tracked for euthanasia with fewer safeguards. If a person is not nearing natural death, there are a few additional safeguards such as a 90-day waiting period.

The Senate added a clause to Bill C-7 to permit euthanasia for mental illness as the sole underlying medical condition, starting in March 2023. That was later delayed until 2024, and then until 2027.

Care Not Kill Campaign

Since the mental illness expansion had not yet come into effect, ARPA Canada’s Care Not Kill campaign focused from 2021 to early 2024 primarily on cancelling that expansion. Many of you, our supporters, got involved in that campaign by delivering flyers, writing emails to your federal representatives, sending submissions to committee, or running bus ads. You sent a clear message that euthanasia should never be a solution for mental illness.

Last fall, MP Ed Fast introduced Bill C-314, which would have cancelled the plan to permit euthanasia for mental illness. Although the bill failed to pass (by only 17 votes), some members of all parties supported it. Earlier this year, nearly every province asked the federal government to delay the scheduled expansion of euthanasia indefinitely. The Conservative Party of Canada has committed to repealing this expansion if they form government following the next election. We can continue to encourage other parties to do the same.

Euthanasia should never be a solution for suffering. Euthanasia and assisted suicide encourage a culture of neglect for suffering, elderly, disabled, and vulnerable people. Canada should promote suicide prevention and life-affirming care for all. Given the successful pushback across Canada on the mental illness expansion, now is the time to call for additional safeguards in the law.

Repeal C-7

The Care Not Kill campaign is asking the government to repeal Bill C-7 entirely. That would not only cancel the mental illness expansion, but would end euthanasia for those who are not dying. It would also restore other safeguards that Bill C-7 removed.

Bill C-7 changed Canada’s law on assisted suicide to offer it as an escape from what is perceived as a difficult life, or even a difficult period of life. Only people with disabilities or chronic illness are offered assisted suicide as a solution for their suffering. The able-bodied who suffer are offered suicide prevention and various other supports. The implicit message is that some lives matter more than others. We need to call on the government to promote life-affirming care for all.

Just as we advocated for the repeal of euthanasia for those with mental illness, we can call for the repeal of euthanasia for those with disabilities or non-terminal illnesses.

Next Steps

With a federal election looming next year, we have an opportunity to ask candidates and MPs how they will protect vulnerable Canadians from euthanasia. We can encourage candidates to talk about the issue during their campaigns, and we can call on the next government to pass legislation to reverse Canada’s slide down the slippery slope when it comes to euthanasia. Stay tuned over the coming months for updated Care Not Kill materials and action items.

Assisted Death, Bill C-7: Euthanasia, Care Not Kill, Euthanasia Email Us 

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