Draft Federal Legislation to Amend the Criminal Code to Be Consistent with Carter v. Canada (Attorney General) 2015 SCC 5

Jocelyn Downie


On February 6, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously declared that the Criminal Code prohibitions on physician-assisted dying (both assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia) violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They immediately suspended the declaration for 12 months thus allowing the government time to craft new legislation. This paper is a contribution to the project of meeting that deadline -- it presents draft federal legislation. This draft legislation is based on: 1) a thorough review of existing legislation in all permissive regimes throughout the world (reviewed through a "lessons learned" lens); and 2) the requirements for constitutional validity set out by the Supreme Court of Canada in Carter v. Canada (Attorney General). Specifically, physician-assisted dying includes both assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia. Access is limited to assistance provided by physicians to competent adults who have a grievous condition (including illness, disease or disability) that cannot be alleviated by means acceptable to the person and causes enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition. Access is not permitted for children or incompetent individuals (either through an advance directive or substitute decision-maker). Assisted dying is only permitted with the free and informed consent of the individual. Procedural safeguards and a national oversight system are established.


Assisted Suicide; Legislation; SCC Cases; Criminal Law

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