Developments to Watch

Julia Lamb and the BC Civil Liberties Association’s Constitutional Challenge

On June 27, 2016, Julia Lamb and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association filed a Notice of Civil Claim launching a Charter challenge to the federal medical assistance in dying legislation:

This claim challenges the constitutional validity of the following underlined portions of s. 241.2 of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, as amended by Bill C-14, assented to on June 27, 2016 (the “impugned laws”):

241.2 (1) A person may receive medical assistance m dying only if they meet all of the following criteria:

(a) they are eligible or, but for any applicable minimum period of residence or waiting period, would be eligible for health services funded by a government in Canada;

(b) they are at least 18 years of age and capable of making decisions with respect to their health;

(c) they have a grievous and irremediable medical condition;

(d) they have made a voluntary request for medical assistance in dying that, in particular, was not made as a result of external pressure; and

(e) they give informed consent to receive medical assistance in dying after having been informed of the means that are available to relieve their suffering including palliative care.

(2) A person has a grievous and irremediable medical condition only if they meet all of the following criteria:

(a) they have a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability;

(b) they are in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability;

(c) that illness, disease or disability or that state of decline causes them enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable to them and that cannot be relieved under conditions that they consider acceptable;

and

(d) their natural death has become reasonably foreseeable, taking into account all of their medical circumstances. without a prognosis necessarily having been made as to the specific length of time that they have remaining.

On July 27, 2016, the Attorney General filed its response to the civil claim.

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