VANCOUVER (June 6, 2016) – Today, Lee Carter, a key plaintiff in the Carter v. Canada case in which the Supreme Court of Canada recognized the right to physician-assisted dying in Canada, along with her brother Price Carter, celebrated the high court’s decision coming into effect.
Lee Carter states: “Today, we’re celebrating that Canadian law now allows Canadians to have a dignified and peaceful death. But on the other hand I feel betrayed. The Liberal government has crafted Bill C-14 to be so restrictive that my own mother would be turned away. People who suffer from Huntington’s disease, MS, or even Spinal Stenosis, my mother’s condition, would all be denied because they are not “terminal””.
Josh Paterson, BCCLA Executive Director, states: “The Supreme Court ruled that a person who has a grievous and irremediable illness that causes suffering that is intolerable has the right to choose physician assistance in dying. There was no requirement that a patient be suffering from a terminal illness. Bill C-14 introduces a requirement that a patient’s “natural death be reasonably foreseeable.” Bill C-14 is clearly unconstitutional as it is inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s rulings in Carter.”
Price Carter states: “On a matter so fundamentally important to Canadians as end of life choices, the federal government has fumbled badly. Given clear guidelines by the Supreme Court defining the legal status of assisted dying they instead craft a cage that traps suffering Canadians and consigns them to agonizing and slow deaths. Bill C-14 is the worst of outcomes: with eligibility so narrowly defined, the Government has slammed the door shut on those in need. The Supreme Court got it, the joint special committee formed to study this issue got it, 85% of Canadians get it: legislators need to consider their humanity, their compassion and their electorate and honour Canadian’s rights in death as affirmed by the Supreme Court.”
Grace Pastine, Litigation Director for the BCCLA, states: “This is an historic day. Today, Canadian law honours an individual’s dignity, freedom and personal values at the end of life. Canadians will have another medical option to reduce suffering at the end of life. While the federal government has not yet been able to enact legislation, there’s already a robust system of protections in place across the country. Medical regulators in every province have issued mandatory guidelines for physicians on providing this humane option. The laws provide layers of safeguards to ensure that a person is competent and making a free choice.”