This evening I voted against Bill C-14: The Medical Assistance in Dying Act. I voted against this legislation at Third Reading (the final stage before the Bill goes to the Senate) for the following reasons:
1) Overwhelmingly, Lethbridge constituents were not in favour of Bill C-14. I sought the maximum input of my constituents, including holding a well-attended public Community Conversation on assisted dying, by posting an on-line straw poll for Constituents, and has received hundreds of letters and emails from residents of the Lethbridge riding. More than 83% of those who made their voice known recommended that I not support this legislation.
2) The final text of this bill does not include a review of non-medical social-vulnerabilities prior to carrying out assisted dying. This was a key safeguard requested by the persons with a disability community – both locally and nationally—in order to ensure individuals are making this decision independent of non-medical influences such as poverty, isolation or lack of access to community programs.
3) The final text of this bill did not require a psychological review for those requesting assistance in dying. Without a psychological review there is no way to ensure that those requesting assistance in dying are making this request free of mental illnesses that could be altering their decision-making ability.
4) Canada does not offer adequate access to palliative care. In fact, only 30% of Canadians have access to Palliative care at the end of their life. This lack of palliative care means that Canadians cannot make a fully informed choice about their options.
After participating in the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying, hearing from local and national organizations representing those with a disability, and after extensive in-person, online and written consultation with my constituents, I could not in good conscience support this legislation.
We are entering waters our country has previously left uncharted. As we do so, we must proceed with utmost care. I believe this legislation lacks essential safeguards to protect vulnerable Canadians from being induced to accept assisted dying. I will continue to hold the Government to account and to advocate for further safeguards.
Thank you to all my constituents who have contacted me on this issue. I truly appreciate you reaching out to me to express your views. Canadians have diverse views on this topic and by sharing your opinions with me you helped me shape my understanding of this issue.