The parliamentary report recommends allowing physician-assisted suicide for people with psychiatric conditions, opens the way for “mature” children younger than 18 to be euthanised, allows for advanced directives so non-competent people can be euthanised provided they made the directive when competent, and recommends that physicians who object to assisted suicide be forced to make a referral for such action when requested. It also recommends all health facilities that receive public funding provide physician-assisted death.
It recommends that Health Canada establish a Secretariat on Palliative and End-of-Life care and a national palliative care strategy. It also recommends national strategies for mental illness and dementia.
Conservative members of the parliamentary committee dissented, noting that Quebec’s provincial euthanasia law, which took effect in December, does not allow physician-assisted death for the mentally ill or those younger than 18. It also does not allow for advanced directives. The Quebec law does not demand referral to another physician who will carry out the euthanasia, but has physicians making the referral to an independent body that will find a physician. The law offers two possibilities to terminally ill patients: palliative care or medically induced death. Quebec was the first of the 10 Canadian provinces to adopt such legislation.