The Canadian government has put forward a bill to make medically-assisted death available to people who were not terminally ill, the media reported on Tuesday. The bill, which was introduced in parliament on Monday and has cross-party support, opens the door to allowing Canadians with degenerative illnesses like cerebral palsy to seek medically-assisted death, the BBC said in a report.
It would create a two-track system for determining a person's eligibility. One track for people who are terminally ill, and one track for people who are not. Patients in both tracks must prove they are facing "intolerable" suffering. The bill would explicitly exclude eligibility for individuals suffering solely from mental illness.
Legislation was precipitated by a 2019 Quebec Superior Court decision
The legislation was precipitated by a 2019 Quebec Superior Court decision that struck down the requirement for patients to prove their natural death was "reasonably foreseeable" in order to seek to terminate their life, the BBC report said. While Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the proposal would protect vulnerable people while giving Canadians autonomy.
The minority government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will need the support of parliamentarians from other parties to pass the bill. New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh has previously signalled support for expanding assisted dying. Canada made medically-assisted death legal in September 2016, becoming one of the few places in the world where it is legal to help sick people die.
More than 13,000 Canadians have been given a medically-assisted death, according to data provided by the justice department. Two-thirds of patients receiving an assisted death cited cancer as the underlying reason, followed by neurological conditions and cardiovascular or respiratory conditions.