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Federal Government releases report of the External Panel on Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v. Canada
January 18, 2016 – Ottawa, ON – Government of Canada
Today, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, together with the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, publicly posted the final report of the External Panel on Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v. Canada.
The report summarizes the results and key findings of the External Panel's consultations on physician-assisted dying. Thousands of individuals, experts and organizations, both within Canada and abroad, have provided their views on this complex and sensitive issue since the Panel was established by the Government of Canada in July 2015
The panel included three members:
- Panel Chair, Harvey Max Chochinov, MD, PhD, FRCPC, Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Canada Research Chair in Palliative Care at the University of Manitoba, and Director of the Manitoba Palliative Care Research Unit, CancerCare Manitoba;
- Catherine Frazee, Professor Emerita at Ryerson University, where prior to her retirement in 2010 she served as Professor of Distinction and Co-Director of the Ryerson-RBC Institute for Disability Studies Research and Education; and
- Benoît Pelletier, LL.B., LL.M., LL.D., LL.D. FRSC, Professor of Law, University of Ottawa, constitutional expert and former Liberal member of the National Assembly of Quebec from 1998 to 2008, and Quebec Cabinet minister from 2003 to 2008.
The report will be reviewed by an all-party Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying established by Parliament. The Committee will also consult with experts, stakeholders and Canadians, and make recommendations on the framework of a federal response on physician-assisted dying.
The Government of Canada thanks the Panel for their extensive work and personal commitment to advancing a national dialogue on physician-assisted dying.
- On February 6, 2015, in Carter v. Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada held that sections 241(b) and 14 of the Criminal Code violate the constitutional rights of certain grievously and irremediably ill adult individuals. These sections of the Criminal Code currently make it illegal for anyone, including a doctor, to assist in or cause the death of another person.
- The Supreme Court suspended its declaration for one year to give the federal Parliament and the provincial and territorial legislatures an opportunity to develop an appropriate response and to put in place a system of safeguards to protect vulnerable persons.
- The Supreme Court of Canada has since granted the Government of Canada an additional four months to respond. The Court granted an exemption to those who wish to exercise their rights by allowing them to apply to the superior court of their jurisdiction for relief. The Court also specified that Quebec is exempted from the four-month extension.
- The Panel consulted directly with 73 experts through 51 meetings in five countries, and 92 representatives from 46 Canadian organizations. The Panel received more than 300 document submissions from stakeholders and nearly 15,000 responses to its online consultation.
"Our government is profoundly grateful for the dedication of Panel members in producing a report on this complex and deeply personal issue for Canadians of all ages and backgrounds. The report will contribute to a thoughtful, well-informed legislative response."
The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
"I would like to acknowledge the dedication and expertise that the External Panel brought to advancing a national dialogue on physician-assisted dying. The report provides a sense of how truly important this matter is for Canadians. Our Government will draw upon its observations and findings when considering how best to implement physician-assisted dying in Canada."
The Honourable Jane Philpott
Minister of Health
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