The Trudeau government’s controversial assisted dying bill could see some major changes.
Final debate on Bill C-14 will begin Wednesday in the Senate.
Senators are likely to make several amendments to the bill, such as ensuring that all severely ill Canadians can end their lives with the assistance of a doctor, not just those who are near death.
“The first category would be eligiblity to access medical assistance in dying,” says Jim Cowan, leader of the independent Liberals in the Senate. “I suspect there will be a number of amendments around that area. Then there will be amendments around the issue of advance directives. Then there will be amendments around safeguards because I think we all recognize, for people who have eligiblity to recieve medical assistance in dying, we have to make sure there are appropriate safeguards.”
Conservative leader in the Senate, Claude Carignan, says the eligibility amendment is crucial.
“We think those amendments are very important because they maintain the constitutionality of the bill,” says Carignan. “That is the type of amendment we will insist on if the House refuses.”
Meantime, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he looks forward to seeing what suggestions senators make about the controversial bill.
As senators deliberate on the bill, Canada remains without a criminal law regarding medical assistance in dying. Instead, eligibility criteria made by the Supreme Court of Canada and guidelines issued by medical regulators in each province, will be used to govern assisted dying.
Bill C-14 was passed in the House of Commons and sent to the Senate on May 31st, only days before the Supreme Court’s June 6 deadline for federal assisted dying legislation.
With files from Rana Aladdin