Will Johnston - speech euthanasia on euthanasia Bill C-14 - Victoria BC - May 12, 2016

Will Johnston

Will Johnston

Dr Will Johnston , Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of BC

I have a dream, and in that dream the Parliament of Canada debates far into the night to perfect a new law. The new Bill has the support of the majority of our elected representatives. It strives to get just the right balance between Federal and Provincial powers over matters of life and death. In my dream hundreds of Canadians testify before Committees and Panels and town hall meetings. They all want a better Canada. In my dream our Parliament is working against a deadline to get a law into place which honors the highest aspirations of our civilization. Finally the law has passed through the Senate and passed through Parliament and one day, let’s imagine June 6 of the year in my dream, the law goes into force.

What a law! What an achievement, worth every one of those late nights of intense Parliamentary debate and Special Joint Committees and Provincial Territorial Expert Panels and External Panels and town hall meetings and letters and papers and open-line radio shows and documentaries. 

In my dream the new law says that anyone in severe pain anywhere in Canada is treated like a cardiac arrest, an emergency which activates a team of specially trained people. Anyone who is depressed and suicidal, anywhere in Canada, is treated like a house on fire, with immediate attention from another team of specially but of course differently trained people. People who are trying to live independently with major disabilities are funded and equipped like a Canadian Olympic team should be. Families with children with disabilities are treated like royalty. Having a disability or having a family member with a disability guarantees you will be kept far above the poverty line, never below that line and forgotten in the economic ditch. A report of possible elder abuse is by law to be treated like an Amber Alert, and abusers exposed to the clear light of emergency inquiry. 

What a dream. When the real Canada wakes up on June 6th, it will be to a new law far removed from my dream. Instead, our great nation labored and brought forth – what?- a legal excuse to protect a doctor or nurse from a murder charge as long as they are under the opinion that you fit the right criteria before your death is inflicted. The law will let someone else sign you up, unlimited doctor shopping to find two of them to agree you are better off dead, no independent objective review before the planned death, no required notification of family members, no need for you to be actually dying, no need to be offered alternatives to suicide, no guarantee the death certificate will state the true cause of inflicted death, no requirement for a pain control assessment, no ban on health care workers being intimidated to cooperate.

The new law is careful to protect doctors. Mind you, doctors are not protected in order to use their consciences, they are protected while making mistakes causing wrongful death. 

The polls show that people can imagine choosing the time of their own deaths. People expect that when that time comes , they will be in control. They think they have been given a new right, but instead they have lost the protections built into the old law. Someone will have control, all right, just maybe not always you.

Link to the full article

EPC: Write to Senators and Members of Parliament

The Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs will be hearing interventions concerning Bill C-14, the bill that will legalize and “regulate” euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada.

Last week, EPC urged you to contact the members of parliament on the House of Commons Committee on Justice and Human Rights, who hearing from groups and individuals from across Canada on Bill C-14

EPC needs you, to contact Canadian Senators, especially the members of the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs with your concerns about Bill C-14.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) presented to the House of Commons Committee on Justice and Human Rights this week and next week we will be presenting before the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs committee. The Senate has the ability to amend or defeat Bill C-14. 

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is also organizing a rally on Parliament Hill on Wednesday June 1 from 12 noon to 1:30 pm.

Link to the full article

Hugh Scher: Letter to Members of Parliament and Senators

From: Hugh Scher, Scher Law Professional Corporation (Toronto, Ottawa)

To: Member of Parliament
House of Commons, Ottawa ON K1A 0A6

Hugh Scher

Hugh Scher

Dear Honourable Member: 

Re: Response to Joint Committee Report on New Assisted Suicide Law

I am a constitutional lawyer and authority on human rights and the rights of people with disabilities in Canada, particularly in respect of end of life issues. I have advocated on these issues for the past 25 years. 

I have served as counsel or been consulted on virtually every end of life case in Canada over the past 15 years. Despite this, the joint committee investigating euthanasia and assisted suicide refused to hear my testimony. 

My review of the joint Parliamentary Committee report highlights the following major concerns: 

1. The Committee appears to unquestionably endorse a Benelux style regime of euthanasia, which has proven to be the most abused system of end of life practices in the world;

2. Even the Supreme Court of Canada recognizes that 32% of cases of euthanasia in Belgium were carried out without request and without consent, despite a legal requirement for these elements. In 47% of those cases, the doctors refused to report the matter to the overseeing body, despite a legal requirement to do so. Despite these clear breaches of the legal requirements of the Belgian law, not one Belgian doctor was prosecuted;

3. The joint Committee report suggests the broadest possible euthanasia regime in the world without any meaningful safeguards or effective oversight;

4. The joint Committee report and recommendations would extend access to euthanasia to children which is clearly contrary to the recommendations of the Supreme Court of Canada;

5. The joint Committee report would extend access to euthanasia to those acting based upon an advance directive and without the requirement for consent at the time of the act. This also contradicts the recommendations of the Supreme Court of Canada;

6. The joint Committee report further supports granting access to euthanasia to people with psychiatric conditions which fundamentally undermines both suicide prevention measures as well as requirements and safeguards for voluntariness, capacity and consent in end of life practices;

Link to the full article

Angus Reid survey: Canadians oppose for euthanasia for psychiatric reasons and forcing hospitals to do euthanasia

Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
An Angus Reid Institute survey of 1517 Canadians focusing on euthanasia and assisted suicide (also known as assisted death) done between March 21 - 24 found that the majority of Canadians oppose many of the recommendations in the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying report (report). The report made 21 recommenations including euthanasia for: people with dementia, people with dementia, and people with psychiatric conditions. The report provided recommendations for legislation on assisted death.

The survey found that 78% of Canadians opposed euthanasia for people with severe psychological suffering but no terminal illness, meaning they oppose recommendation 3, in the report, that supported euthanasia for people with psychological suffering.

The survey found that 68% of Canadians opposed forcing religiously affiliated hospitals to participate in euthanasia while 62% supported religiously affiliated nursing homes from having to participate in euthanasia. Therefore they oppose recommendation 11 in the report.

The euthanasia lobby has pressured the government to reduce funding for institutions that refuse to kill their patients. The survey found that only 24% of Canadians supported this idea.

The survey found that only 36% of Canadians supported forcing medical professionals who oppose euthanasia to refer their patients to a doctor who will kill their patient.

Link to the full article

Canada: Caring Not Killing Letter writing campaign

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) launched the Caring Not Killing postcard campaign to members of parliament a few weeks ago. It is important to contact elected representatives to state your opposition to euthanasia, assisted suicide and the pro-euthanasia recommendations from the report of the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying and the report of the Provincial Territorial Expert Advisory Group on Physician-Assisted Dying.

The Caring Not Killing postcard campaign is an easy way to activate people to contact elected representatives, but letter-writing is a more effective way to get the attention of your political leaders. Order the Caring Not Killing postcards from EPC for free.

To write an effective letter - keep your letter short and use only one or two talking points. 

Links to information on topics related to euthanasia and assisted suicide:

1. A Personal story, 2. Elder Abuse, 3. Euthanasia: The theory and the reality, 4. Medical Error, 5.Euthanasia/Disability rights, 6. Euthanasia/Palliative care, 7. Euthanasia/Belgium, 8.Euthanasia for psychiatric reasons, 9. Assisted Suicide USA, 10. Abuse of euthanasia laws, 11. Conscience rights for healthcare professionals.

Send you letter to your member of parliament or to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, Health Minister Jane Philipott. Member of Parliament contact information.

Letters to federal politicians can be sent without postage.

Link to the full article

Senator Denise Batters: Help the mentally ill. Don’t kill them

Senator Denise Batters

Senator Denise Batters

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The National Post featured a guest column, on March 14, 2016, by Senator Denise Batters concerning her opposition to the legalization of euthanasia for people with psychiatric issues. Senator Batters is a lawyer and a mental health advocate.

Previous article by Senator Batters.

Batters was widowed when Dave Batters, her husband, died by suicide in 2009 while he was a sitting member of parliament. Senator Batters experience with her husband's suicide led her to strongly oppose euthanasia for people who live with psychological suffering.

Senator Batters writes in her National Post column:

Questions surrounding suicide are deeply personal to me. I lost my husband, former member of Parliament Dave Batters, to suicide in 2009, after his struggle with severe anxiety and depression. In the years following his death, I have worked to raise awareness and dispel the stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide. That has included communicating to those struggling with mental illness, particularly with those who harbour thoughts of suicide, to encourage them not to give up, but to instead reach out for help. 
This is why I have reacted so strongly against the recent majority report of the joint parliamentary committee studying physician-assisted suicide. Polls show that most Canadians agree with physician-assisted suicide, but usually those poll questions (and Canadians) assume that only those with terminal illnesses would be given the option. Canadians want strict safeguards on who is eligible for assisted dying and legislators have the responsibility to provide that clarity. The committee report failed to provide either. Instead, it threw open the door to a number of shocking scenarios.

Link to the full article

Hospice and Hospital will not participate in assisted dying

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The recent report of the federal government's Special Committee on Assisted Dying stated (recommendation 11) that every publicly funded healthcare institution should be required to allow assisted death on its premises.

On March 5, the Windsor Star published an article by Brian Cross concerning Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital and the Hospice of Windsor and Essex County, since both institutions oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Carol Derbyshire the CEO of the Hospice of Windsor stated that their philosophy of ca supports:

“respect for the dignity and sanctity of human life,” and ... that it’s (assisted death) not part of palliative care.

Janice Kaffer, the CEO of Hotel Dieu, that also operate a hospice, stated:

As a faith-based Catholic hospital, it does not believe it should participate in physician-assisted suicide.

Jean Echlin who is the President of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and a registered nurse who was instrumental in founding the Hospice of Windsor clinical and volunteer programs and recently co-authored a book titled: It's not that simple told the Windsor Star:

most Canadians don’t understand how dignified death can be when pain and symptoms are well managed. She fears the push for assisted suicide is being driven by a desire to control health costs. Little consideration is given to the “death squads,” the doctors and nurses expected to deliver the deadly drugs,

While Dr Brad Burke, a physical rehabilitation expert told the Windsor star:

“Whether I’m the executioner or I’m made to to refer someone to an executioner, I feel I’m still responsible,”

Burke is concerned that the Ontario College of Physicianswould revoke his medical license if he refuses to kill his patients. The Windsor Star stated:

He worries that if he follows his conscience he may contravene the rules of the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons and end up losing his licence.

The Canadian Medical Association recently urged the federal government to respect the conscience rights of healthcare professionals.

Healthcare professionals and institutions must not be forced to participate in killing their patients. If Canada imposes euthanasia upon the nation, there needs to be "safe havens" where people can go and not be pressured to die by lethal injection.