Commons-Senate committee begins work on doctor-assisted death response

A joint Commons-Senate committee is meeting this morning to begin exploring recommendations for legislation in response to the Supreme Court of Canada's landmark ruling on doctor-assisted death.

OTTAWA — A joint Commons-Senate committee is meeting this morning to begin exploring recommendations for legislation in response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark ruling on doctor-assisted death.

The committee is to consult broadly with the public, experts and stakeholders, with the goal of reporting back with suggestions by Feb. 26.

The government faces a time crunch to find a legislative response to the court ruling, which recognized the right of consenting adults enduring intolerable physical or mental suffering to end their lives with a doctor’s help.

Last February, the court opted to suspend its decision for a year to allow Parliament and provincial legislatures to respond, should they choose, by bringing in legislation consistent with the constitutional parameters it laid out.

On Friday, the court gave the federal government four additional months to produce a new law, but it also allowed an exemption for anyone who wants to ask a judge to end their life sooner.

The Liberal government argued it needed the original deadline extended by six months to have the time to craft a proper law.

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