The House of Commons passed Bill C-14 by a vote of 186-137. Four Liberal members voted against the bill.
The bill has moved on to the Senate for review. Senators thus far has made several amendments to the bill, including removing the near-death requirement.
Liberal Senator Serge Joyal put forward a motion that would amend the bill broadening eligibility so that all Canadians with “a grievous and irremediable medical condition” causing “enduring suffering” can access an assisted death not just those whose death is “reasonably foreseeable.”
Senators also adopted Senator Don Plett’s amendment that would make it an offence for someone to help another person self-administer medication prescribed to bring about a medically assisted death if that person would benefit materially from the death of the patient.
The Senate also adopted an amendment by Senator Nicole Eaton that would essentially require a person seeking a medically assisted death to first consult with medical care professionals on what the path for palliative care and treatment would be for the patient.
Senate Conservative Leader Claude Carignan has said “If our amendments are completely rejected and this bill comes back in its original form in the Senate, I think that it is at risk to be completely rejected.”
If a bill is introduced in the House of Commons and then amended in the Senate, a message about the amendments is sent to the Commons, asking for their agreement. If the Senate and the House of Commons do not agree on the contents of a bill, they may propose amendments until they reach agreement.
The health and justice ministers have indicated they are not happy with the amendments to the bill.
Health Minister Jane Philpott said she is worried the more permissive language could see people suffering solely from a mental illness apply for medical assistance in dying.
“The amendment that was passed last night is a significant one,” Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said Thursday. “It will broaden the regime of medical assistance in dying in this country, and we have sought to ensure that we, at every step, find the right balance that is required for such a turn in direction,” she added.
The bill has not been passed by the government before the Supreme Court deadline. The Supreme Court’s criteria for allowing assisted dying took effect June 6th, and will be in place until new legislation receives royal assent.