Special Joint Committee on Physician Assisted Dying

Parliament of Canada (January-February, 2016)




In February, 2015, in the case of Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the criminal prohibition of physician assisted suicide and physician administered euthanasia, but suspended the ruling for one year to give federal and provincial governments an opportunity to draft new laws that conform to the decision.  In January, 2016, the Court granted an extension of the suspension to 6 June, 2016.  In the interim, ith it allowed euthanasia to proceed in Quebec under provincial legislation in force there, and allowed individuals seeking physician assisted suicide or euthanasia elsewhere to apply to a superior court to obtain authorization.  A special joint committee of the Canadian House of Commons and Senate began work in January to produce a report for the federal government about proposed federal legislation.

Committee Pages



Committee proceedings have not been transcribed verbatim.  On important points, transcripts should be checked against the video to ensure accuracy.

French language materials

French language videos and transcripts can be found by using the links below to access the parliamentary English language page, and then clicking on the French language icon or link at the upper right corner of the parliamentary page.


Groups and individuals were heard during 10 Committee meetings, which are listed and outlined below.  The outline of each meeting includes:

  • Meeting number and date
  • Links to full videos and transcripts of the meeting
  • Witness list
  • Links to videos edited to show exchanges relevant to freedom of conscience
  • Links to briefs submitted by the groups/individuals
  • Links to extracts from group/individual briefs relevant to freedom of conscience (+)

Meeting No. 2
18 January, 2016  |  VideoTranscript

  • Department of Justice
    • Joanne Klineberg, Senior Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section
    • Jeanette Ettel, Counsel, Human Rights Law Section

Meeting No. 3
25 January, 2016 | Video | Transcript

  • Department of Health
    • Abby Hoffman, Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy
    • Sharon Harper, Manager, Chronic and Continuing Care Division
  • As an individual
    • Peter Hogg, Scholar in Residence, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
  • Barreau du Québec
    • Marc Sauvé, Director, Research and Legislation Services
    • Jean-Pierre Ménard, Lawyer

Meeting No. 5
26 January, 2016 | Video | Transcript

  • External Panel on Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v. Canada
    • Benoît Pelletier, Member, External Panel
    • Stephen Mihorean, Executive Director, Secretariat
  • Provincial-Territorial Expert Advisory Group on Physician-Assisted Dying
    • Jennifer Gibson, Co-Chair
    • Maureen Taylor, Co-Chair

Meeting No. 6
27 January, 2016 | Video | Transcript

  • Canadian Medical Association
    • Dr. Cindy Forbes, President
    • Dr. Jeff Blackmer, Vice-President, Medical Professionalism
  • Canadian Nurses Association
    • Anne Sutherland Boal, Chief Executive Officer
    • Josette Roussel, Senior Nurse Advisor
  • Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians
  • Canadian Pharmacists Association
  • Canadian Psychiatric Association
    • Dr. K. Sonu Gaind, President
    • Katie Hardy, Director, Professional and Member Affairs

Meeting No. 7
28 January, 2016  | Video | Transcript

  • As an individual
    • Hon. Steven Fletcher
  • Council of Canadians with Disabilities
    • Dean Richert, Co-Chair, Ending of Life Ethics Committee
    • Rhonda Wiebe, Co-Chair, Ending of Life Ethics Committee
  • Dying With Dignity Canada
  • As individuals
    • Jocelyn Downie, Professor, Faculties of Law and Medicine, Dalhousie University
    • David Baker, Lawyer, Bakerlaw
    • Trudo Lemmens, Professor, Faculty of Law & Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

Meeting No. 8
1 February, 2016  | Video | Transcript

  • British Columbia Civil Liberties Association
    • Josh Paterson, Executive Director
    • Grace Pastine, Litigation Director
  • Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms
  • Dying With Dignity Canada
    • Wanda Morris, Chief Executive Officer
    • Shanaaz Gokool, Chief Operating Officer and National Campaigns Director
  • College of Family Physicians of Canada
    • Dr. Francine Lemire, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer
  • Alzheimer Society of Canada
    • Mimi Lowi-Young, Chief Executive Officer
    • Debbie Benczkowski, Chief Operating Officer

Meeting No. 9
1 February, 2016  | Video | Transcript

  • Canadian Cancer Society
    • Gabriel Miller, Director, Public Issues
    • Kelly Masotti, Assistant Director, Public Issues
  • First Nations University of Canada
    • Carrie Bourassa, Professor, Indigenous Health Studies

Meeting No. 10
2 February, 2016 | Video | Transcript

  • As an individual
    • Carolyn Ells, Associate Professor, Medicine, Biomedical Ethics Unit, McGill University
  • Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association
  • Dying With Dignity Canada
    • Derryck Smith, Chair of Physicians Advisory Council
  • College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia
    • Dr. Douglas Grant, Registrar and Chief Executive Officer
    • Marjorie Hickey, Legal Counsel
  • Criminal Lawyers’ Association
    • Leo Russomanno, Member and Criminal Defence Counsel
  • Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada
    • Dr. Alika Lafontaine, President

Meeting No. 11
3 February, 2016 | Video | Transcript

  • Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience
    • Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop, Archdiocese of Toronto
    • Laurence Worthen, Executive Director, Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada
  • Canadian Unitarian Council
  • Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
    • Dr. Tarek Rajji, Chief, Geriatric Psychiatry
    • Kristin Taylor, Vice-President, Legal Services
  • Canadian Paediatric Society
    • Dr. Dawn Davies, Chair, Bioethics Committee
    • Mary J Shariff, Associate Professor of Law and Associate Dean Academic, University of Manitoba
  • Canadian Council of Imams

Meeting No 12
4 February, 2016  | Video | Transcript

  • DisAbled Women’s Network of Canada
    • Carmela Hutchison, President
  • Alliance of People with Disabilities Who Are Supportive of Legal Assisted Dying Society
    • Margaret Birrell, President
    • Angus M. Gunn, Counsel
  • As an individual
    • Margaret Somerville, Professor, McGill University
  • The Canadian Medical Protective Association
  • Canadian Association for Community Living
    • Michael Bach, Executive Vice-President
  • As an individual
    • Gerald Chipeur, Lawyer
  • Society of Rural Physicians of Canada

Edited Videos

The edited videos provided here focus on

  • terminology,
  • the continuing effects of the criminal law,
  • the exemptions to criminal prosecution required to allow euthanasia and physician assisted suicide under the terms of the Carter ruling,
  • jursidiction of the federal and provincial governments in relation to criminal law and freedom of conscience and religion,
  • freedom of conscience and religion for individual and institutional health care providers who object to providing or becoming parties to euthanasia or assisted suicide.
List of Edited Videos

Group/individual presentations

Multiple participant discussions

Briefs submitted

Links to the full briefs are provided below.  Click on (+) to see statements from a brief relevant to freedom of conscience and religion for healthcare providers.

By groups/ indivduals appearing as witnesses

By groups/individuals not appearing

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