- Government of Canada Information
- Statement on Bill C-14 by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (April 14, 2016)
- Statement from Cardinal Thomas Collins concerning introduction of federal euthanasia/assisted suicide legislation (April 14, 2016)
- Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) Resources
- CCCB Statement for Catholics of Canada on the report Medical Assistance in Dying: A Patient-Centred Approach
- Speaking notes by Thomas Cardinal Collins of presentation before the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying
- Ecumenical and Interfaith Declaration on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide – Campaign for additional signatures
- Click here to download a copy of Bill C-14
- The Government of Canada has published a “Question and Answer” webpage regarding the draft legislation, which can be accessed through the following links:
Today, the Government of Canada has introduced Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying). This proposed legislation, which responds to the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in early 2015, will make euthanasia and assisted suicide legal and more accessible in our entire country. The Supreme Court decision and current legislative efforts are in stark contradiction to the endeavours of individuals, families and communities to counteract the dangers and sufferings of suicide – as we have seen this week in Attawapiskat, Ontario.
The teaching of the Catholic Church and the stance of the Catholic Bishops of Canada affirm the sacredness and dignity of human life. Suicide and euthanasia are contrary to the most profound natural inclination of each human being to live and preserve life. Furthermore, they contradict the fundamental responsibility that human beings have to protect one another and to enhance the quality of health and social care which every human life deserves, from conception to natural death.
Bill C-14, no matter how it may be amended, is an affront to human dignity, an erosion of human solidarity, and a danger to all vulnerable persons -- particularly the aged, disabled, infirm and sick who so often find themselves isolated and marginalized. Moreover, it is a violation of the sacrosanct duty of healthcare providers to heal, and the responsibility of legislators and citizens to assure and provide protection for all, especially those persons most at risk.
As our country faces this new moral and social threat, the Bishops of Canada renew their call to federal, provincial and territorial legislators to consistently defend and protect the lives of all, to renew efforts to guarantee accessible home care and palliative care, and to protect the conscience rights of healthcare providers and agencies refusing to be part of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
April 14, 2016
Statement from Cardinal Thomas Collins concerning introduction of federal euthanasia/assisted suicide legislation
On April 14, 2016, the federal government introduced legislation that, if passed, will amend the criminal code to make euthanasia/assisted suicide legal in Canada.
At a time when our priority should be fostering a culture of love, and enhancing resources for those suffering and facing death, assisted suicide leads us down a dark path. At first sight it may seem an attractive option, a quick and merciful escape from the suffering that can be experienced in life, but fuller reflection reveals its grim implications, not only for the individual but for our society, and especially for those who are most vulnerable. Such fuller reflection is sorely needed now. Just days ago, Pope Francis stated, "Care and concern for the final stages of life is all the more necessary today, when contemporary society attempts to remove every trace of death and dying...Euthanasia and assisted suicide are serious threats to families worldwide."
In the coming days I, along with others who share deep concerns about assisted suicide, will study the proposed legislation carefully and continue to advocate for the most vulnerable among us. I thank the thousands of Canadians, of many faiths or no faith at all, who have reached out to elected representatives, respectfully expressing their concerns regarding the unsettling recommendations included in the parliamentary joint committee report.
I would encourage all those who are troubled by the prospect of assisted suicide to continue to dialogue with their members of parliament, both at the federal and provincial level to:
- Prioritize effective palliative care for all, and support for those experiencing chronic suffering of any kind. We must especially offer love and compassionate assistance to those who are tempted to suicide.
- Protect health care workers across Canada who oppose participating in euthanasia/assisted suicide, either by doing it personally or by arranging for it to be done (that is, referring for these procedures.) Their conscience rights are protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and those rights must be respected in practice. In protecting them, we protect those they serve.
- Protect health care institutions, hospices and long-term care facilities whose mission, vision, and values commit them each day to heal, not to hasten death. In a cold world of euthanasia, havens of hope are all the more needed.
A discussion about death is never an easy one. Yet now, more than ever, Canadians across the country need to be fully informed and mindful of the implications of this legislation.
In a familiar Catholic prayer we meditate on the two key moments of life: now, and the hour of our death. In these days ahead, may that reflection guide us as in a spirit of love, mercy and compassion, we journey with all those who are suffering.
Thomas Cardinal Collins
Archbishop of Toronto
April 14, 2016
Following the release on February 25, 2016, of the report Medical Assistance in Dying: A Patient-Centred Approach, by the Special Joint Committee of the Government of Canada on Physician-Assisted Dying, several declarations and reactions have been published beginning with the pastoral statement of the Most Reverend Douglas Crosby OMI, Bishop of Hamilton and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB). His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, also issued a statement, as well as the Most Reverend J. Michael Miller, C.S.B., Archbishop of Vancouver, and the Catholic Bishops of Alberta. Furthermore, the Assembly of Québec Catholic Bishops (AECQ) has just made available the English version of its pastoral letter, Approaching Death in the Company of Christ. This pastoral letter was published in French in December 2015 and includes a proposal of a number of steps that may be taken as part of the spiritual journey to accompany the dying.
Other resources promoted by dioceses across the country:
- The Archdiocese of Edmonton is sponsoring a campaign to promote the true dignity of life and death. The Every Life Matters campaign includes a website with a video to help parishes and Catholics understand the issues involved, and provides a list of practical suggestions on how to choose life. The website is http://www.commitlife.com/.
- The Archdiocese of Toronto is part of the Respect for Conscience project. This involves a detailed proposal on how to respect the conscience rights of doctors and health-care facilities without interfering with the patient's choice for assisted death. The project, and its website http://www.canadiansforconscience.ca/, is an initiative of the Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience, which involves the Archdiocese of Toronto, the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada, the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians' Societies, the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, and Canadian Physicians for Life. The project also represents some 5,000 physicians across Canada. The website allows concerned Canadians to indicate their support for the proposal, as well as providing an opportunity to write to the appropriate officials in each province or territory with respect to its plans to protect the conscience rights of health-care workers.
- The Archdiocese of Vancouver has launched a campaign to protect and safeguard freedom of conscience and religion for health-care workers. It includes a petition to the House of Commons for a national strategy on palliative care, as well as a postcard to the Minister of Justice on ensuring protection for the freedom of conscience of those who cannot ethically participate in assisted suicide. Information about the campaign, as well as copies of the petition and the postcard, are available at http://rcav.org/assisted-suicide/.
Submissions received by Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying:
The CCCB intervention, together with other written submissions received by the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying, has been posted on the latter's website,
CCCB Statement for Catholics of Canada on the report "Medical Assistance in Dying: A Patient-Centred Approach"
The Special Joint Committee of the Government of Canada on "Physician-Assisted Dying" this past February 25 released its report, Medical Assistance in Dying: A Patient-Centred Approach. The report, in part, recommends:
- That assisted suicide be available to those with psychiatric conditions (Recommendation 3)
- That psychological suffering be among the criteria making an individual eligible for assisted suicide (Recommendation 4)
- That within approximately three years assisted suicide be available for adolescents and possibly also children who can be considered "mature minors" (Recommendation 6)
- That all health-care practitioners be obliged at the minimum to provide an "effective referral" for clients seeking assisted suicide (Recommendation 10)
- That all publicly funded health-care institutions in Canada provide assisted suicide (Recommendation 11)
In addition, the report fails to show how palliative care and home care can provide true options for those tempted by suicide, nor does it call for a national plan to prevent suicides. Suicide rates are five to seven times higher for First Nations youth in Canada than for non-Aboriginal youth, while suicide rates among Inuit youth are among the highest in the world, at 11 times the national Canadian average.
The teaching of the Catholic Church and the stance of the Catholic Bishops of Canada are clear. Suicide is not part of health care. Killing the mentally and physically ill, whether young or aged, is contrary to caring for and loving one's brother and sister. The dignity of the human person and the flourishing of the human community demand: 1) protection and respect for each human life from conception to natural death, and 2) freedom of conscience and religion for each person as well as each institution. Social wellbeing, personal security and the common good – together with religious faith – involve safeguarding, not endangering, the lives of those suffer.
The above recommendations and the thrust of the report completely fail to be "patient-centred" or to assist and support the dying and the vulnerable. To borrow from the words of Pope Francis, the report's recommendations are the approach of a "throw-away" society. They do not reveal the face of God's mercy.
Together with my brother Bishops, both Catholic and Orthodox, as well as with leaders from the Evangelical Protestant, Jewish and Muslim faith communities, and many of other faiths or of no faith, I urge you to inform your elected officials why euthanasia, assisted suicide and the above recommendations are completely unacceptable.
(Most Rev.) Douglas Crosby, OMI
Bishop of Hamilton
President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
February 26, 2016
Speaking notes by Thomas Cardinal Collins of presentation before the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying
His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, and Deacon Larry Worthen intervened on February 3, 2016, before the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying. Cardinal Collins and Deacon Worthen spoke on behalf of the Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience. This comprises the Archdiocese of Toronto, the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada (CMDSC, of which Mr. Worthen is Executive Director), the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians' Societies, the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, and Canadian Physicians for Life. The text has been also published by The Catholic Register.
Last week, on January 29, Bishop Douglas Crosby OMI, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, made a written submission to the Joint Parliamentary Committee by means of a letter to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, and the Minister of Health, the Honourable Jane Philpott.
Ecumenical and Interfaith Declaration on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide – Campaign for additional signatures
From www.cccb.ca ~ This past October 29, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) launched a joint Declaration on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. The sponsoring signatories to the Declaration intend now to engage in a concerted effort in view of obtaining signatures from a wide spectrum of people in Canada who agree with the principles outlined in the Declaration. The number of signatures has grown to 2,264 as of January 12, 2016.
At the launching of the Declaration at the National Press Gallery in Ottawa on Parliament Hill, the CCCB and EFC were assisted likewise by Rabbi Dr. Reuven P. Bulka, C.M., from the Congregation Machzikei Hadas in Ottawa, and Imam Samy Metwally from the Ottawa Main Mosque/Ottawa Muslim Association. At the time of its release, the Declaration had 56 signatories from Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical, Jewish and Muslim faith leaders across Canada.
The invitation to sign the Declaration is now open to all people in Canada who agree with the principles of the Declaration. Signatures are added on line. The Declaration and the signatory option can be accessed at the following link:
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