Where is Canada going with euthanasia in 2019?



January 18, 2019

There’s been several concerning developments relating to euthanasia in Canada in the past few weeks, and one exciting update as it relates to ARPA and a court case on euthanasia.

In the video below, André touches on two things:

    • First, ARPA’s response to the Council of Canadian Academies report on euthanasia, in relation to expanding it to minors, those with mental disabilities, and for advance care directives
    • Second, the exciting news that ARPA Canada, along with Bethesda Foundation in BC and the Anchor Association in Ontario, have been granted intervenor status in the Lamb Case out of BC. Julia Lamb who has spinal muscular atrophy is challenging Canada’s existing euthanasia law as being too restrictive.

In our documentary “Ending Suffering: The Palliative Alternative” Pieter Harsevoort, who also had spinal muscular atrophy, spoke of his concerns with the legalization of euthanasia in Canada. You can watch the interview with Pieter here.

Click on the video below to watch the update. If you prefer, the full transcript can be found below the video.


ANDRÉ: Hello ARPA friends, I want to update you about our work on the euthanasia file by updating you on two different aspects of it. 

First of all, our response to the CCA report to Parliament on euthanasia expansion, and secondly on our application to intervene on a very important euthanasia case coming out of British Columbia: the Lamb case.

So first of all the CCA report. Back in December, 2018 the CCA tabled the report with Parliament outlining all of the different facts around expanding euthanasia to youth or mature minors, to people with mental disabilities and illnesses, and to people who are requesting MAiD as an advance directive (asking for assisted suicide one day in the future if certain medical changes were to happen to them).

So the initial report that they’ve tabled is well over 900 pages long. I’ve read the executive summary – I’ve got a copy here with me – and in the executive summary, reading through it it was very clear that the experts in Canada who drafted this report are actually quite divided on whether or not and how exactly we should expand euthanasia in Canada.

That shows to me a clash of worldviews, a clash of fundamental assumptions about human rights and about human dignity and autonomy and what needs to be protected when it comes to humans who are vulnerable or perceived to be vulnerable. That clash I think is important for us to recognize because it shows that this debate about euthanasia is not at all settled and it also shows that those who are advocating for greater and greater and greater openness to euthanasia are not going to stop. They’re not going to stop just because the law has been changed once, they want it more and more open.

So we too can’t stop. We are going to take some of these safeguards they talk about in this report and try to apply that to the existing euthanasia law. We don’t need safeguards for the expansion of euthanasia, we need safeguards for the euthanasia law as we have it already. So we’re going to work with this report, and we’re going to bring this to the attention of parliamentarians through 2019 and we want your help with that as well.

It’s not just in Parliament that we’re concerned about and fighting for the protection of human life as it relates to end-of-life care and euthanasia in particular, we are also engaged in the courts. ARPA Canada intervened in the – or applied to intervene – in the Lamb case in British Columbia.

We were just told this week that we’ve been accepted as an intervener in that case. That case too seeks to expand euthanasia in this country, just through the courts. So we are going to bring our intervention, we’re going to bring hopefully our arguments later this year in that case.

The trial is scheduled for the end of November/early December of this year. All kinds of process that we have to go through in the meantime. Evidence has to be tabled and submitted and reviewed, arguments need to be drafted and so on. ARPA’s going to be busy through that as well with the help of some extra legal help in British Columbia.

So, we need your help there too and particularly through your prayers. Prayers for the judge, prayers for the legal team working on our arguments, prayers that justice be done and that protections be upheld for people who have disabilities. And together hopefully through 2019, we can make euthanasia and the protection of human life a big focus of ARPA’s work and of your work as well.

So thanks so much for your support and we look forward to working with you throughout this year. Take care!

Lamb, Palliative Care Email Us 

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