Canadian doctors and nurses will quit their professions or relocate, if their right to refuse to participate in assisted suicide is not protected, according to one of Langley’s members of parliament.
MP Mark Warawa, representative for Langley-Aldergrove, said he is tabling a private member’s bill in the House of Commons because Bill C-14, which will set the legal framework around physician-assisted dying, does not go far enough to protect the conscience rights of medical professionals.
Warawa’s bill would make it a criminal offence to coerce or intimidate someone into participating in assisted suicide or to fire someone for not doing so.
“It is a constitutional right and I’m baffled as to why the government hasn’t included that fundamental part of the Carter decision to protect these conscience rights,” he said, referencing the February 2015 Supreme Court of Canada ruling, which required the federal government to legalize and create safeguards around assisted suicide.
Warawa, who sat on the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying, had a hand in writing its dissenting report, which recommended much stricter restrictions on the practice than the committees main report.
The Liberals’ bill restricts assisted suicide to mentally competent adults with an illnesses that makes their death “foreseeable.” Warawa said he was happy to see this narrow definition, which more closely resembles the special committees dissenting report, than its main report.
“I’m pleased in a number of ways that C-14 is much more restrictive [and] provides much more safeguards than what the special committee had wanted,” he said.
Langley’s other MP, John Aldag, has said the bill is restrictive to start with but the issue will studied further in five years.
He said the number one issue brought to the committee by doctors and other medical professionals was that of conscience rights and the he didn’t know why the Liberal government has not yet included them in its bill.
“They have heard overwhelmingly from Canadians that this should be protected,” he said.
Warawa said he hopes the Liberals amend C-14 but if they do not, he will go ahead with his private member’s bill.
“I’m hoping that the government will amend C-14 but I’m not optimistic,” he said.
Warawa will be holding a public meeting on Bill C-14 at Langley Township Civic Centre on May 24 at 7 p.m. He said he welcomes anyone wishing to contribute to the conversation.