Press Release: Statement regarding AMAD Committee Recommendations



February 16, 2023

For Immediate Release

February 16, 2023

In response to the release of the final report of the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying, ARPA Canada issues the following statement.

ARPA Canada is disappointed that, despite unresolved concerns about MAiD, the majority report of the Joint Committee continues to recommend ways to expand access to euthanasia.

In particular, ARPA Canada’s disappointment is due to the following:

The Joint Committee report recommends that the government expand MAiD to mature minors.

ARPA Canada’s response:

  • Offering euthanasia to a minor sends the message that we are giving up on her, that we think her life may no longer be worth living, or that she has become too great a burden. If she decides her life is no longer worth living, her decision will inevitably be influenced by the implicit message society is sending by offering her euthanasia.
    • It is far better to assure a sick child that we will be there for her, and give her the best care possible, for as long as she lives, than to burden her with deciding whether or when she should end her life.
    • Making euthanasia available to minors cannot be “balanced out” by improving palliative care. Mature minors should not be asked to decide when they should end their life. Instead, they should receive the help they need to live as well as possible.
    • Applying the “mature minor” doctrine of health care decisions to euthanasia is inappropriate. This is not just another “health care” decision. It is a decision to end all decisions. Euthanasia is not a health care service. It is a “service” that ends health care.

The Joint Committee report recommends that the government expand MAiD to include advance requests.

ARPA Canada’s response:

  • Advance requests ignore the possibility that a person’s wishes and desires might change and that in the future, they may no longer want to be euthanized but may be unable to communicate that.
    • A person may give an advance request based on his present fear of a future condition (e.g. advanced dementia) that he has never experienced – even though he might not, when that future condition arrives, actually wish to die.
    • When doctors suggest that a patient consider signing an advance request, it sends a message that the lives of persons who have lost medical decision making capacity are no longer worth living. Advance requests thus contribute to the stigma around certain diseases and conditions.
    • Advance requests are not permitted for ordinary treatment decisions and should not be permitted in the context of MAiD.

The Joint Committee recommends allowing MAiD for mental illness as a sole underlying condition (“MD-SUMC”).

ARPA Canada’s response:

  • Mental illness cannot reliably be determined to be “irremediable”. By permitting MAiD for mental illness, Canada will end up killing people whose condition might have improved over time or with new therapies.
    • Mental health supports should never include assisted suicide or euthanasia.
    • Excluding mental illness as a sole underlying condition does not unlawfully discriminate against persons with mental illness, but protects all Canadians from potentially being euthanized should they ever experience mental illness.
    • Instead of expanding MAID to include MD-SUMC, the government should restrict MAID to terminal, physical health conditions – to people whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable, which is clearly what the Supreme Court of Canada had in mind in Carter.
    • The Supreme Court of Canada also said in Carter that controversial euthanasia cases in other countries “would not fall within the parameters suggested in these reasons, such as euthanasia for minors or persons with psychiatric disorders.”

The Joint Committee repeatedly relies on the Truchon decision of the Superior Court in Quebec, which was the court of first instance. The judge in that case decided the naturally-foreseeable-death requirement violated the Charter.

ARPA Canada’s response:

  • The Attorney General of Canada should have appealed Truchon, and the Committee, on behalf of Parliament, should have called him out for not refusing to do so.
  • It is the Attorney General’s responsibility to defend the constitutionality of Parliament’s laws in the courts. The law does not belong to him or his government, but to Parliament, and his responsibility as Attorney General is non-partisan.
  • The result is that a single judge overturned a law that was carefully vetted by the Justice Department, and thoroughly debated and adopted by the House and Senate just three years before the Truchon decision.
  • The Attorney General opportunistically relied on the Truchon ruling to advance his preferred policy agenda rather than fulfil his duty to Parliament and the Crown.

ARPA Canada urges the government to stop and reverse the expansion of MAiD. Canada already has one of the most permissive euthanasia regimes in the world. Canada has utterly failed to protect vulnerable Canadians. Instead, we have taken a fast track to devaluing the lives of the sick and disabled and to normalizing suicide as a solution to suffering.

To read more about the AMAD report, read our recent op-ed.

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