Darcy urges province to speak up on end-of-life care

It is past time for the Christy Clark government to tell British Columbians how end-of-life care will be managed in light of the Supreme Court of Canada’s assisted dying decision, say the New Democrats.

The release that came out on Thursday of a non-partisan report from the Special Joint Parliamentary Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying should provide a way forward for the provincial government, which has remained silent on the issue, despite a thoughtful all-party report presented to the B.C. legislature last fall.

“The Christy Clark government has known for over a year that it would need to develop rules and regulations to deal with this difficult and sensitive subject,” said New Democrat health spokesperson Judy Darcy. “That was the purpose of the provincial Select Standing Committee on Health’s work last year, which resulted in a bi-partisan report that spoke to several key issues addressed in today’s federal report.

“Provinces are responsible for delivering health services, and British Columbians have the right to know what their provincial government plans to do.”

“Patients, their families and health care providers are concerned that the government seems to be avoiding this issue, instead of providing the guidance that everyone involved needs,” said Darcy.

In February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Canadian Criminal Code provisions on assisted suicide were illegal and gave the federal government a year to write new laws. The federal government applied for an extension, and were given until June 6. Because health is a provincial jurisdiction, regulations on how the issue will be addressed are under the purview of the provinces.

Quebec has had a law on the books since December 2015 and Ontario announced last year that it would begin crafting regulations in advance of a new federal law. Darcy said the Select Standing Committee’s report was the groundwork the government needed to create its own regulations.

“The delays mean that people making difficult end-of-life choices, and their family members, face unacceptable uncertainty at one of the toughest points of their lives,” said Darcy.

“At a time when people need compassion and support, they are getting nothing from Christy Clark’s government.”