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Doctor-assisted death: The recommendations vs. reality

Ottawa will introduce legislation next week governing physician-assisted death. File / Global News

OTTAWA – The federal government will introduce legislation next week governing physician-assisted death, but sources suggest it won’t meet all of the recommendations of the joint Commons-Senate committee that studied the issue. Here’s some of what the committee recommended, and what the government is expected to do.

READ MORE: Right to die: Recommendations would make Canada’s assisted death among the world’s broadest

Committee recommendation: That individuals not be excluded from eligibility for medical assistance in dying because they have a psychiatric condition.

Government: Likely to be very cautious about allowing individuals with psychiatric problems to access assisted dying.

Committee recommendation: That permission to use advance requests for medical assistance in dying be allowed any time after one is diagnosed with a condition that is reasonably likely to cause loss of competence, or after a diagnosis of a grievous or irremediable condition but before the suffering becomes intolerable.

Government: Will not allow people diagnosed with competence-impairing conditions like dementia to make advance requests for medical help to die once they lose their faculties.

READ MORE: Alberta government seeks public input on physician-assisted death

Committee recommendation: That the government of Canada implement a two-stage legislative process, with the first stage applying immediately to competent adult persons 18 years or older, to be followed by a second stage applying to competent mature minors, coming into force at a date no later than three years after the first stage has come into force.

Government: Will not include mature minors.

Quote: “As Liberals, we stand to defend individuals’ rights, but also need to make sure we’re protecting the most vulnerable and any legislation that we put forward will be based on that.” — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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