44th Parliament, 1st Session
(November 22, 2021 - Present)
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In 2016, the Criminal Code 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-7 included a provision prohibiting MAID where mental disorder is the sole underlying condition (MAID MD-SUMC) for a period of two years—until 17 March 2023.
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. In June 2022, the committee presented an interim report focused on MAID MD-SUMC, on 22 June 2022to which the government provided a response in October 2022. The committee released its final report in February 2023, and the government provided its response in June 2023.
Concerns have been raised that the health care system would not be prepared to safely and consistently provide MAID MD-SUMC by the 17 March 2023 deadline set out in Bill C-7. To address those concerns, the law was amended by Bill C-39 to delay the availability of MAID MD-SUMC until 17 March 2024.
AMAD’s final report included a recommendation that the committee be re-established five months prior to the coming into force of MAID MD-SUMC, “to verify the degree of preparedness attained for a safe and adequate application of MAID (in MD-SUMC situations).” In October 2023, motions were adopted in the House of Commons and Senate to re-establish the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying.