TORONTO — Premier Kathleen Wynne says Ontario is preparing legislation on doctor-assisted death in case the Supreme Court of Canada rejects a federal government request for a six-month extension to develop new rules.
The Supreme Court ruled last winter that Criminal Code provisions prohibiting physician-assisted death were unconstitutional, and gave the federal government and provincial legislatures until February 2016 to come up with new legislation.
The top court is holding an oral hearing today on the Trudeau government’s request for a six-month extension to deal with the issue.
Wynne says her government is “acutely aware” that the province must have a protocol on doctor-assisted death in place if the court refuses to grant the extension, and is in the process of preparing it.
She says Ontario will make its plans public in due course if the court doesn’t grant more time.
Wynne says if there is an extension, Ontario will work with the other provinces and the federal government to determine a national protocol for physician-assisted death.
In its ruling last year, the high court recognized the right of consenting adults enduring intolerable physical or mental suffering to end their lives with a physician’s help.
Federal government lawyers told the court today that a comprehensive response to the top court’s judgment requires extensive work by Parliament and provincial legislatures that cannot reasonably be completed by February.