L’Arche Canada response to Bill C-14’s
In the Preamble to Bill C-14, the draft bill on medical assistance in dying, the Government of Canada attempts to strike “the most appropriate balance between the autonomy of persons who seek medical assistance in dying, on one hand, and the interests of vulnerable persons in need of protection and those of society, on the other.” We applaud the Government for affirming “the inherent and equal value of every person’s life,” discouraging “negative perceptions of the quality of life of persons who are elderly, ill or disabled” and clearly stating that “vulnerable persons must be protected from being induced, in moments of weakness, to end their lives.” The legislation is rightly focused on medical assistance only to people who are dying.
However, these statements will be meaningless unless mechanisms are developed to provide vigorous safeguards as called for in the ‘Vulnerable Persons Standard.’ With the Canadian Association for Community Living and our other partners, we seek to ensure that these safeguards are incorporated so that the Government lives up to the values stated in the Preamble.
In addition to these safeguards, we must also develop the resources necessary to ensure that access to palliative care becomes a universally available health care service, and to expand supports and services for vulnerable Canadians and their families. We encourage the Government to invest in proactive supports that respond to many of the concerns raised in the Vulnerable Persons Standard.
In their letter published in the Globe and Mail on March 1, 2016, Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, and Hollee Card, National Leader of L’Arche Canada, wrote, “It strikes us that this is an occasion to reaffirm life even as we permit those facing terrible suffering to choose death. We must ensure that the best safeguards exist, while redoubling our commitment to caring for one another in the most fragile moments of each of our lives.”