Ottawa urged to craft stand-alone assisted suicide law to cover all jurisdictions

A prominent constitutional scholar says Parliament needs to design a stand-alone law on doctor-assisted death.

OTTAWA — A prominent constitutional scholar says Parliament needs to design a stand-alone law on doctor-assisted death.

Peter Hogg tells a joint Commons-Senate committee that Parliament should develop a set of safeguards that would apply even where provinces have not pursued a legislative path.

Otherwise, says Hogg, some Canadians could end up being unfairly denied the right to a physician-assisted death.

Last February, the Supreme Court recognized the right of consenting adults enduring intolerable physical or mental suffering to end their lives with a doctor’s help.

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

Over the next month, MPs and senators on the committee are expected to hear from the public, experts and stakeholders before reporting back with legislative suggestions by Feb. 26.