NRL News

Supreme Court of Canada gives federal government extension to legislate on euthanasia and assisted suicide

by | Jan 19, 2016

However 5-4 ruling exempts Québec and grants Superior Court judges the right to approve deaths

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

supremecourtofcanada994reOn February 6, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously struck down Canada’s assisted suicide law, employing language that permits euthanasia. In Carter v. Canada, the Supreme Court gave parliament 12 months to legislate on the issues.

On January 11, 2016, the justices heard a request from the Federal government for a six-month extension. The Federal government suggested that Québec should be exempted from the extension to allow them to institute their own euthanasia law.

The Supreme Court has decided to grant the Federal government a four-month extension. By a 5-4 vote, the Court agreed to exempt Québec from the extension and based on national “fairness,” they have enabled Canadians to petition the Superior Court for approval to die by lethal injection.

If governments do not legislate on the issues within four months, Canada’s assisted suicide law (Section 241b) will be null and void leaving no protection in law for Canadians.

The Superior Court is instructed to approve assisted death based on Section 127 of the Carter decision which stated:

a competent adult person who (1) clearly consents to the termination of life; and (2) has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition. “Irremediable”, it should be added, does not require the patient to undertake treatments that are not acceptable to the individual. The scope of this declaration is intended to respond to the factual circumstances in this case. We make no pronouncement on other situations where physician-assisted dying may be sought.

When reading the Carter decision you will notice that these terms have not been defined.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is concerned that it is not possible to devise and pass effective legislation on euthanasia and assisted suicide within four months. We are further concerned that Superior Court judges will be given the right to approve lethal injections without proper definitions and effective parameters around their decisions.

Editor’s note. This appeared at

Categories: Canada Euthanasia