Press Release: BC Court of Appeal rejects speedier trial in assisted dying law challenge, BCCLA vows to continue to fight for rights of suffering Canadians

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VANCOUVER, B.C. – Today, the B.C. Court of Appeal rejected a bid by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) to fast-track its lawsuit which argues the right to assisted dying is unfairly limited by the government’s current law.

The BCCLA launched the legal challenge, Lamb v. Canada, in 2016, 10 days after Parliament passed Bill C-14 — the government’s assisted dying legislation. The civil rights watchdog said the legislation unlawfully restricted eligibility for a medically assisted death to people who were already dying. In particular, the BCCLA argued that the requirement of a “reasonably foreseeable death” was in violation of Canadians’ charter rights, leaving some Canadians trapped in intolerable suffering.

In June of 2017, the BCCLA asked the B.C. Supreme Court to prevent Canada from re-litigating certain factual findings decided in the earlier assisted dying case, Carter vCanada, the BCCLA’s landmark case that secured the right to a dignified death for suffering Canadians. The BCCLA argued that it would mean a shorter, faster, less expensive trial – which would make it possible to bring relief sooner to suffering Canadians.

The BCCLA lost that application before the B.C. Supreme Court, and today, the Court of Appeal refused to overturn that decision. The BCCLA is currently considering all its legal options, including challenging the Court of Appeal decision by seeking leave to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Josh Paterson, Executive Director for the BCCLA, stated: “With respect, we are disappointed that the Court of Appeal dismissed our appeal and refused to prevent the government from re-litigating key facts that were already established in the earlier assisted dying case. If this decision stands, it will mean a longer legal trial — and that will ultimately harm sick and suffering Canadians. We will continue to strenuously fight against the government’s efforts to have a legal do-over at the expense of suffering Canadians. We are currently considering all of our legal options.”

Read the full decision here.

Read the BCCLA’s factum here.

Media Contact: Josh Paterson, BCCLA Executive Director, at [email protected] or (778) 829-8973