In 2015 in Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), the Supreme Court of Canada determined that the Criminal Code provisions relating to aiding suicide infringed rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In response, a Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying of the Senate and House of Commons was struck to provide recommendations for a legislative framework on assisted dying. In 2016, the Criminal Code provisions were amended by Bill C-14 to remove criminal liability for medical practitioners or nurse practitioners who provide medical assistance in dying (MAID) to individuals who meet the criteria and safeguards outlined in the law. The law was revised in 2021 by Bill C-7 to expand the eligibility criteria for MAID and amend some of the safeguards, after the government chose not to appeal the R. v. Truchon decision which found parts of the 2016 law to be unconstitutional.
Bill C 14 required that the provisions contained in the bill be referred to a committee of the Senate, the House of Commons or both for review at the start of the fifth year after the day the bill received Royal Assent. Similarly, Bill C-7 required establishing a joint Senate and House of Commons committee to conduct a comprehensive review of the Criminal Code MAID provisions and their application, as well as “issues relating to mature minors, advance requests, mental illness, the state of palliative care in Canada and the protection of Canadians with disabilities.”
In April 2021, motions were adopted in the House of Commons and Senate establishing the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying. Two meetings were held before the dissolution of Parliament.
The Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying was established again in March 2022. While the committee was initially required to submit a final report by 23 June 2022, that deadline was extended to 17 October 2022. The committee presented an interim report on 22 June 2022.