Bill C-14 Interpretation

Uncertainty about the meaning of specific terms in the Canadian MAiD legislation puts Canadians at risk in a number of ways. Eligibility for MAiD may be determined too broadly or too narrowly, and there may be arbitrary inequality of access when the various MAiD assessors and providers interpret the law differently. In this IRPP report, Jocelyn Downie and Jennifer Chandler identify six key phrases in the current law that urgently need clarification. They explain how these phrases are generating interpretive uncertainties, propose an interpretation for each phrase and justify each interpretation. The aim of this report is not to find ways to expand or restrict access to MAiD. Rather, it aims to determine the most defensible interpretations of the legislation, using the tools of statutory interpretation supported by relevant clinical and other forms of expertise.

The report can be viewed here.

Jocelyn Downie and Jennifer Chandler discuss interpreting Canada’s MAiD legislation in this IRPP webinar, which can be viewed here.

One of the problems with Canada’s medical assistance in dying legislation is the criteria that a person’s death must be “reasonably foreseeable.” This was the subject of the case A.B. v. Canada (Attorney General), 2017 ONSC 3779.The definition of “reasonably foreseeable” is discussed in Jocelyn Downie & Kate Scallion, “Foreseeably Unclear: The Meaning of the ‘Reasonably Foreseeable’ Criterion for Access to Medical Assistance in Dying in Canada” (forthcoming in DLJ).


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