NRL News

Status of Québec Euthanasia Law Remains in Flux

by | Dec 10, 2015

Editor’s note. The following is courtesy of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Justice Michel Pinsonnault

Justice Michel Pinsonnault

On December 9, the Québec Court of Appeal granted permission for the province of Québec to appeal a decision rendered by a Québec Superior Court justice.

Justice Michel Pinsonnault’s December 1 opinion found that “Quebec’s Act Respecting End-of-Life Care,” adopted in June 2014, could not go into force December 10 because it conflicted with Canada’s federal Criminal Code.

The Court of Appeal made it clear that it was not making any decision on the merits of the case, but did note that the issues raised by the case are of significant public importance and should be addressed swiftly. A hearing has been scheduled for December 18 to address the appeal, leaving the status of the Québec law in flux.

In February 2015, in the case of Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), the Supreme Court of Canada found that existing laws against homicide and assisted suicide were unconstitutional. However the justices kept those laws in effect and gave Parliament one year to enact a new law that provides for a regime of effective oversight and safeguards.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) was an intervener at all levels of court in the Carter case and is also an intervener before the Québec Court of Appeal — D’Amico v Attorney General.

EPC’s position in the D’Amico litigation is that Québec’s euthanasia law goes beyond the jurisdiction of the Province of Québec and falls under the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada. The intentional killing of patients by doctors is not medical treatment or health care, and the lack of before the death oversight represents a fatal flaw in the proposed Québec law that puts the safety of the public at risk, contrary to s.7 of the Charter.

“A national approach to the regulation of assisted suicide is the only way to avoid an inconsistent patchwork quilt of regulation of assisted suicide laws across Canada, which could leave Canadians at risk,” said EPC Counsel, Toronto Constitutional Lawyer, Hugh Scher.

“The Federal Government could take a very different approach to regulation than the much riskier regime of euthanasia that has been endorsed in Québec, which is similar to the Belgian regime, where deaths without request have occurred, and where a lack of compliance with the enacted safeguards is evident,” added EPC Executive Director, Alex Schadenberg.

“The Supreme Court’s conclusion that assisted suicide could be legalized safely is predicated on the notion of strong federal regulation,” said EPC Vice President, Amy Hasbrouck. “The lack of a comprehensive national response to these issues risks sowing incoherence, an approach that would put all Canadians at risk.”

The Federal Government has indicated its intention to hold an all-party Parliamentary Committee hearings to study and respond legislatively to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Carter.

Categories: Euthanasia