The province of Ontario is getting a head start on physician-assisted death legislation in case the federal government isn’t able to receive an extension from the Supreme Court of Canada to develop new rules.
Last February, Canada’s top court recognized the right of consenting adults enduring intolerable physical or mental suffering to end their lives with a doctor’s help. The court suspended its decision for a year to give Parliament a chance to draft a response to the ruling, however the deadline is less than a month away, February 6th.
On Monday the government asked for a six-month extension on that deadline but didn’t get a response from the Supreme Court.
Due to the uncertainty, Premier Kathleen Wynne says her government is “acutely aware” Ontario must have something in place for doctor-assisted death if the extension isn’t granted. Wynne says the province is in the process of preparing those protocols.
Wynne says if there is an extension, Ontario will work with the other provinces and the federal government to determine a national protocol for physician-assisted death.
The federal government has dragged its feet on the file since last October’s federal election when power shifted from the Conservatives to the Liberals. It was only last month that the Liberals established a special Commons-Senate committee to explore the issue of doctor-assisted death.