Conservatives will help Liberals delay the expansion of medical aid in dying

OTTAWA—A potential political hurdle to efforts by Liberals to roll back Canada’s health care expansion in the moribund regime appears poised to fall as the issue returns to the national agenda next week.

House Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said on Thursday his party would back a bill that would change the start date, now set for March 17, 2023, for when people with mental illness can seek professional medical help. to end their lives. He and he urged the Liberals to push the bill through its legislative steps.

“Conservatives strongly believe that mental illness should not be the only factor in considering medical assistance in dying,” Scheer said in Commons.

“So we are very supportive of passing this bill to set more of a timeline for the government to get this right, for MPs to come together and get this part of the regime right.”

House Liberal Leader Mark Holland said the bill, C-39, will go to the House of Commons for debate on Monday and again on Wednesday as the clock ticks down for the bill to law is approved by Parliament before the original deadline date arrives.

It sets a new deadline of March 17, 2024 as the date that people can legally ask medical professionals for help in ending their lives if they are suffering from mental illness. The new deadline will give the government more time to make changes.

“This bill, to our government and to me and I think to all members of this House, it’s something that’s exceptionally important and we want to make sure we get it right,” Holland said.

And without cross-party support, the bill cannot pass through the required legislative steps on time.

Although they say they will support him, the Conservatives have launched challenges on the issue before.

In 2020 and 2021, they exhausted nearly every available minute of debate on the bill that expanded MAID to those whose deaths were not reasonably foreseeable, bringing the legislative process dangerously close to the then-current deadline for implementation. of a new law.

Ultimately, the Bloc Québécois joined the Liberals in shutting down the debate and forcing a vote.

So the need for a law was compelled by a 2019 Quebec Superior Court ruling that said the original MAID legislation was too restrictive.

The bill now before the Commons deals with the consequences of that bill, which became known as C-7. While it granted MAID access to those whose deaths were not reasonably foreseeable, it delayed two years in granting the same access to people with mental illness.

Following the Quebec ruling, a special parliamentary committee was created to review the expansion of the law, but it was delayed and its final report is not expected to be ready until later this month.

That raised concerns that the government would not have time to review and implement its recommendations before the original March 17 deadline.

Two committee members confirmed to the Star on Thursday that the committee is on track to meet its new deadline of next Friday, and perhaps even beat it by a few days.

“It looks pretty good, you never know until it’s over,” Liberal MP Marc Garneau, one of the committee chairs, said on Thursday.


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