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VULNERABLE PERSONS AT RISK OF ABUSE IN SYSTEM FOR PHYSICIAN-ASSISTED SUICIDE, WITHOUT MORE TIME TO DEVELOP SAFEGUARDS
January 25, 2017
June 15, 2016
June 15, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 11th, 2016
Vulnerable persons will be at significant risk of abuse and error in the coming system for physician-assisted suicide without more time for Parliament to ensure needed protections are enshrined in the Criminal Code. The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) and the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) and their legal counsel attended the Court's hearings on Monday in support of the federal government's request to extend the February 6 deadline for having a system in place.
CCD and CACL believe an extension is essential, especially given that the report of the federal External Panel mandated to consider safeguards has not yet been released; and because the 'Provincial-Territorial Expert Advisory Group on Physician-Assisted Dying' rejected proposals for robust safeguards.
In its decision in Carter, the Supreme Court of Canada called for safeguards that would balance access and autonomy with protecting people who are vulnerable to being induced to commit suicide. The Court determined that a safeguards system that imposed "stringent limits that are scrupulously monitored and enforced" was needed for these equally important goals. Yet, proposals for mandatory vulnerability assessment and advance independent review were rejected by the provincial/territorial Advisory Group. This, despite clear evidence of coercion, inducement and abuse of vulnerable persons in systems for physician-assisted suicide in other jurisdictions. Moreover, the Advisory Group did not recognize that physicians will be conflicted in their role to diagnose and address causes of suffering, while also authorizing an intervention intended to cause death.
CCD and CACL believe that safeguards must include: 1) mandatory vulnerable assessments; and 2) a timely prior review and authorization by an independent panel or body. This check and balance would ensure that the decision is completely voluntary and that a person is not vulnerable to misinformation, abuse or coercion. It would also protect physicians - as a whole - from compromising their trusted role in health care; an irrevocable consequence of being positioned to authorize interventions intended to cause death.
Council of Canadians with Disabilities
James Hicks, National Coordinator
Canadian Association for Community Living
Michael Bach, Executive Vice-President
Jim Derksen views inaccessible York Street Steps in Ottawa. CCD intervened in the Brown Case, which challenged an inadequate accommodation developed for the Steps.
The Latimer case directly concerned the rights of persons with disabilities. Mr. Latimer's view was that a parent has the right to kill a child with a disability if that parent decides the child's quality of life no longer warrants its continuation. CCD explained to the court and to the public how that view threatens the lives of people with disabilities and is deeply offensive to fundamental constitutional values. Learn more.