The Public Affairs Office has been engaged on the issue of MAID since the Supreme Court of Canada released in 2015 its landmark decision in Carter vs. Canada. The unanimous judgment overturned the legal ban on physician-assisted suicide.
On June 17, 2016 the federal government passed Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying). The legislation amended the Criminal Code to outline the definition of medical assistance in dying, eligibility requirements for people wishing to request MAID, safeguards for individuals and several legal, professional and reporting requirements for doctors, nurse practitioners and pharmacists. Under the 2016 rules, only those over the age of 18 suffering from a serious and incurable medical condition where death is reasonably foreseeable were eligible to request medical assistance in dying.
In September 2019, the Quebec Superior Court released another landmark decision in Truchon v. Canada. In that decision, the court ruled that the Criminal Code requirement that a person's death be "reasonably foreseeable" and the Quebec law requirement that people must be "at the end of life" before they are eligible to request MAID was overly restrictive and infringed the Charter rights of people suffering from serious and incurable conditions who were not nearing the end of life. The court declared portions of the law unconstitutional and gave the federal and provincial governments 6 months (until March 2020) to modify their laws.
In January 2020, the federal government launched public consultations before tabling new legislation. The Salvation Amy participated in those consultations and the Territorial Commander send letters to the Prime Minister, Justice Minister and Heath Minister.
The federal government tabled new legislation Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying) in February 2020, just days before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic and governments' collective attention worldwide turned to addressing the health and economic implications of the pandemic. Bill C-7 was re-tabled in the House of Commons in October 2020, and it became law on March 17, 2021.
Although the expanded MAID regime permits people who are not nearing the end of life to request MAID, it does maintain the existing definition of medical assistance in dying, it continues to include strict eligibility requirements for people wishing to request MAID, and establishes new and additional safeguards for individuals and several legal, professional and reporting requirements for doctors, nurse practitioners and pharmacists.
The Public Affairs Office continues to monitor the legal and regulatory changes related to MAID and provides regular updates to Salvation Army leadership and other internal partners.