Supreme Court Support for Assisted Dying

On February 6 the Supreme Court of Canada announced its unanimous decision to end the ban on assisted suicide. This decision will decriminalize physician assisted dying for individuals with a grievous and irremediable medical condition that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual. Although these terms (“grievous and irremediable” and “enduring suffering”) remain undefined at the moment, they allow for those competent Canadians who are suffering to choose a death with dignity.

The CUC has a long history of advocating for the recognition of the right to death with dignity and holds a deep belief that this is a human right. Resolutions dating back to 1973 have guided us through our involvement at every level of appeal as intervener with the Taylor and Carter cases.

CUC Executive Director, Vyda Ng, expressed appreciation for the Supreme Court judges in making this courageous decision: “This decision by the Supreme Court affirms that compassion is alive in Canadian courts, and that concerned and determined citizens can bring about change for the public good.”

“The CUC looks forward to the day that this becomes fair and equitable legislation across the country, and we will continue to work to make sure that legislation becomes good practice, with careful safeguards in place. We are grateful to all who have been committed to this cause – to those who have gone before – to make this possible.”

We extend our heartfelt thanks to Tim Dickson, the Vancouver lawyer who has represented the CUC pro bono throughout the multi-year process. “This unanimous decision by the Supreme Court to allow medically assisted dying is unprecedented and groundbreaking,” says Dickson. “It will bring comfort and relief to the many Canadians who have an irremediable illness and their families. We are honoured to have been part of this historical moment.”