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Euthanasia
I was sick and you took care of me… (Matthew 31.36)

Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide:
Questions of Life and Death

Human life is a wondrous and beautiful gift of God. Since God has created members of the human race in His image and likeness, every man, woman and child is endowed with an inalienable dignity. As Pope Benedict taught in his first homily as our Holy Father, each individual person is willed, loved, and necessary in the sight of God.

In our country, we are witnesses to the sad truth that human dignity is not always honoured. The obvious and most tragic example of this is abortion. It is manifest also in embryonic stem cell research, which destroys a human embryo, and most recently, in the promotion of legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide. These practices call us to speak out clearly in defence of life.

̶ Archbishop Richard W. Smith

2020 Legislation Update: Bill C-7

The federal government has introduced Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying.) This legislation would expand access to euthanasia and assisted suicide   ̶  less than four years after these practices became legal for the first time in Canadian history. If this bill is passed, those eligible for euthanasia would include those without a terminal illness, including Canadians with disabilities. Dementia patients who signed a “directive” 10 years ago may now have someone else determine whether they have changed their mind. Every life has value and God-given dignity. Rather than making it easier to die, the federal government should make life worth living.

Speak Out Now

It is difficult to know how quickly the legislation will move forward in the House of Commons, but it is likely the process will take at least the month of March 2020. It is vitally important that our members of Parliament know we oppose this legislation before it goes to a vote. The best way to do that is to follow the example of Archbishop Smith and write individual letters to our MPs. 

Download Archbishop Smith's Letter to MPs in the Archdiocese of Edmonton

Download suggested announcements for Bulletin or Pulpit

Here are some points to consider including, but feel free to use your own words and experiences:

  • I am writing you today to express my deep concern about legislation that is being proposed in Parliament to expand the number of people who can qualify for medical assistance in dying (euthanasia), and ask that you oppose it. When the original law was passed in 2016, we were promised it would not be amended before a comprehensive review after five years. Given that at least 13,000 Canadians have chosen euthanasia over the past four years, a careful review is essential. This amendment is being needlessly rushed.
  • This legislation is indeed a matter of life and death – so caution and diligence are critical. The online “consultation process” initiated by the government in January was too short and woefully inadequate. Please press the pause button on this process.
  • We know that many people choose to end their lives because of loneliness, isolation, depression, discouragement, poverty, and lack of health and social services. Why not strive for a compassionate Canada where the vulnerable are loved, supported and cared for, not put to death during a particularly difficult time in their lives?
  • We know that quality palliative care offers truly compassionate accompaniment for patients on their final journey, and yet only 30 per of Canadians have access to that care. The government seems determined to expand the legislated ‘right’ to be put to death, but has done nothing to expand access to the palliative care that would reduce the number of death requests. I urge you to prioritize access to palliative care for every Canadian immediately and concretely.
  • Palliative care by its very nature does not include killing the patient. Yet we know providers of palliative care are being pressured to do just that. A hospice in Delta, B.C., recently lost its provincial funding because it would not provide euthanasia. I urge you to press for effective protection in law for all those persons and institutions that provide palliative care.
  • We know that many other health care workers are devoted to caring for their patients and want no part of killing them. I urge you to press for legal protection of our health care providers who do not wish to participate or refer their patients for euthanasia. Parliament of Canada must uphold and protect the Charter-recognized rights to freedom of conscience and freedom of relision, which are already being seriously eroded.
  • I am asking you to to be a voice for Canadians who want our country to be one which supports the vulnerable, one that is known for our compassionate and comprehensive health care. These changes only add to societal stereotypes that a life with a disability is a life not worth living. By allowing the active killing of people with disabilities, the government of Canada would be supporting these stereotypes.
  • I do not support this legislation. The brief consultation process initiated by the government assumed that all Canadians support euthanasia, which is not the case. Many Canadians, especially those experiencing severe suffering, need assistance in living, which will affirm their value and dignity as human beings. I urge you to work to protect all human life and to advocate for ways to ease suffering – ways that do not include killing people. We need to make life worth living, not make it easier to die.

How to Make Your Voice Heard

Mail may be sent postage-free to any Member of Parliament at the following address:

[Name of Member of Parliament]
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada
K1A 0A6

To find your MP’s name and/or email address, visit https://www.ourcommons.ca/Members/en/search. Consider sending a copy of your letter or email to:

Mr. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister Justin.Trudeau@parl.gc.ca
Mr. David Lametti, Minister of Justice David.Lametti@parl.gc.ca
Ms. Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health Patty.Hajdu@parl.gc.ca
Ms. Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Disability Inclusion Carla.Qualtrough@parl.gc.ca 

No time to write? Visit the websites helptheliving.ca or CanadiansforConscience.ca, where you can send a pre-written message directly to your Member of Parliament in a matter of minutes.

Some Helpful Resources on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

Statements and letters from the Catholic Bishops of Alberta and the NWT

Statements and Letters from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Documents by the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute

Canadians for Conscience