The Senate of Canada on Wednesday passed a bill that extends access to medical assistance in dying to more Canadians with health problems. The bill received Royal Assent a day later, becoming law.
The new legislation eliminates the requirement that a person’s death be “reasonably foreseeable” to gain access. Now, people with serious health problems can seek assisted dying medical treatment as long as they meet the protection requirements.
A notable guarantee is a mandatory and minimum waiting period of 90 days from which the patient is first assessed for care until the time when the actual procedure can be performed. In addition, the patient can “at any time and in any way, withdraw his request” for care. The law also specifies that a person whose only health problem is mental illness may not receive care.
The law is a response to a Quebec court ruling in September 2019, where a judge ruled that the current Canadian law on medical assistance in dying was unconstitutional because of its restrictive criteria. Those who oppose the legislation argue that people with disabilities may seek care because of a lack of supportive care. Others say the law is needed to extend care to people with chronic pain but without reasonably foreseeable deaths.