4.5 Physician-assisted death: Living and dying with dignity

End of life issues are increasingly raised by those suffering from terminal illness, seeking to choose the time and means of their own death. A movement for Dying with Dignity has gained substantial public support across Canada, and that support base includes the Green Party. Advances in medical care can keep human beings alive much longer when, in the past, the limits of technology allowed death to provide relief. Those in unbearable pain at the end of their lives have repeatedly sought a court ruling that the provisions of the Criminal Code, prohibiting physician-assisted death must be adjusted.

In a unanimous decision on‎ February 6, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada has reversed historic support for the position that assisting a death was an offence under the Criminal Code. Now under narrow circumstances enunciated by the court, a physician may assist a death. Parliament now has until February 2016 to develop the laws to meet the ruling. The Green Party is ready, having already accepted this compassionate position. We will, however, remain vigilant against any attempt to allow any acceptance that any person can make such a decision for another person. We can no longer leave family members in the moral and legal quandary of assisting their loved ones to a peaceful death with dignity.

Green Party MPs will:

  • Support changes to the Criminal Code to allow for physicians to assist death in limited cases and circumstances involving adults with full mental capacity to consent, in situations of terminal illness and who find their situation unbearable.