The BC Humanist Association is calling on Members of Parliament (MPs) to commit to the quick reintroduction and passage of two bills this fall after an announcement yesterday that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was proroguing Parliament until September 23.
With prorogation all bills are wiped from the order paper. This included ones that would ban conversion therapy and make changes to Canada's assisted dying laws. The BCHA recently launched a petition in support of the ban on conversion therapy and has long campaigned for broad access to medical assistance in dying (MAID).
Both bills had not passed first reading in the House of Commons.
Ian Bushfield, Executive Director, BC Humanist Association:
After languishing on the floor of the House, it's an utter shame to see these two critical bills be tossed in Parliament's dustbin. These bills provided needed protections for LGBTQ2S+ people and those seeking to die with dignity.
We are asking MPs to commit to supporting bringing forward similar legislation once Parliament returns in late September.
Bill C-8: The Conversion Therapy Ban
Conversion therapy is the dangerous and pseudoscientific practice of attempting to change a person's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
The bill to ban it, Bill C-8, would have made it illegal to subject a minor to conversion therapy, to remove a minor from Canada to undergo conversion therapy abroad, to cause a person to undergo conversion therapy against their will, to profit from providing conversion therapy or to advertise the practice.
The BCHA is asking those who signed its petition in support of Bill C-8 to ask their MPs to commit to supporting the reintroduction and speedy passage of the ban on conversion therapy. The petition has also been updated.
Bill C-7: MAiD Reforms
Bill C-7 proposed a series of reforms to Canada's assisted dying regime.
Some of these changes were prompted by a September 2019 ruling by the Quebec Superior Court that found that a provision limiting access to MAiD to those whose natural deaths are "reasonably foreseeable" was unconstitutional. The court granted the Government two extensions to introduce legislative changes to bring the law in line with its ruling. The most recent extension was granted in June and gives the government until December 18 before the provision is of no effect.
The bill would have allowed individuals to waive the requirement for final consent if they were likely to lose the capacity to in advance of a specific date. It removed another barrier to access by reducing the requirement from two to one independent witness. However, the bill would also explicitly (and likely unconstitutionally) have precluded people with mental illness from accessing MAiD.
While the bill was supposed to remove the requirement that a person's "natural death has become reasonably foreseeable" to access MAiD, it instead created a two-tiered approach where those whose deaths are not reasonably foreseeable would face additional hurdles to access MAiD. Specifically they would have had to undergo a 90-day assessment period and have a special expert assessment. They would also have been unable to waive final consent.
Read more about the changes that were proposed in Dying With Dignity Canada's advocacy toolkit.
When Parliament resumes, the BCHA is calling on MPs to introduce a new bill to amend Canada's assisted dying laws that:
- Completely removes the vague distinction about whether natural death is reasonably foreseeable
- Allows for final consent waivers when someone is likely to lose capacity
- Permits people suffering from mental illness to access MAiD
- Lifts the ban on advance requests for MAiD
- Allows mature minors to access MAiD