PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 11, 2020

Ottawa, ON – The Canadian House of Commons has passed Bill C-7. The bill introduces medical assistance in dying as an option for people who are not nearing death, provided that they have a disability or disabling medical condition. Bill C-7 has been repeatedly flagged as a violation to the human rights of people with disabilities. Today, on international Human Rights Day, the bill will land on the desks of Senators. 

Justice Minister David Lametti has been attempting to expedite the Parliamentary process, aiming to have Bill C-7 passed by Dec 18th to adhere to a timeline set by the Quebec Superior Court. Canadian disability rights advocates have unanimously denounced the bill, which targets people with disabilities. They are pleading for the Senate to resist the call for expediency and to diligently engage in their work of providing sober second thought. 

Krista Carr, Executive Vice President of Inclusion Canada commented “I am deeply disturbed with how this bill, which is such a threat to the rights and dignity of people with disabilities and their families, has been passed by the house on Human Rights Day of all days. It’s a disgrace. Our last hope is that the Senate will refuse to rubber stamp Bill C-7.” 

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional affairs today also released the findings of their pre-study of Bill C-7. The report captured extensive dissatisfaction with Bill C-7 being conveyed from all sides including a list of “major Charter concerns” that would be nearly impossible to resolve by the deadline.

And yet legal experts like UBC Professor of Law Isabel Grant, who chairs Inclusion Canada’s Strategic Litigation Committee, have stressed that the government still has options for seeking more time, “The Attorney General could seek an extension from the Quebec Superior Court, or he could let the deadline come and pass; the Truchon decision is a court of first instance in Quebec and of little weight in the rest of Canada. We are talking about facilitating the suicides of people with disabilities – we cannot rush this decision. Our international obligations under the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the guarantee of equal protection of the law to all Canadians in the Charter require that we tread cautiously.”

Bill C-7 goes against advice provided by the previous Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilitieswho has cautioned that “access to MAiD should be restricted to those who are at the end of life; having an impairment should never be a reason for assisted dying to be permitted.” 

Because the government refused to appeal the Truchon decision, the Quebec Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada have not had an opportunity to analyze the constitutionality of a requirement restricting MAiD to end of life circumstances. Inclusion Canada and our allies welcome a Supreme Court reference on Bill C-7 but only if there is a mechanism that allows for meaningful participation from persons with disabilities and their representative organizations.

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Media Contact: Marc Muschler, Senior Communications Officer, Inclusion Canada, mmuschler@inclusioncanada.ca

Inclusion Canada is a national federation of 13 provincial-territorial associations and over 300 local associations working to advance the full inclusion and human rights of people with an intellectual disability and their families. We lead the way in building an inclusive Canada by strengthening families, defending rights, and transforming communities into places where everyone belongs.