OTTAWA – The Ontario and British Columbia health ministers appear to be prepared for the federal government to ask for more time to respond to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision on doctor-assisted death.
The federal Liberals have not yet said that they need more time to address the court’s ruling, but Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has publicly indicated that is a possibility.
Last February, the court gave Parliament a year to establish a set of laws to govern physician-assisted death.
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B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake said his province would be open to working with the federal Liberals over a longer period to ensure they give the matter the thought it deserves.
“I think that it is a very short time frame without an extension,” Lake said in an interview. “It is the federal government’s decision to make, but I think certainly … a framework needs to be worked out with a lot of thoughtfulness, so I think the more time to be able to do that, the better.
“We would certainly be amenable to working with the federal government over a longer time period.”
Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins said his province would understand if the federal government seeks an extension.
“I think that, given the electoral process and the change in government as well, I think that Ontario would be very understanding if the federal government were to ask for an extension,” Hoskins said. “It’s really up to them to be sure that they can implement any changes required prior to the deadline.”
Ontario is leading a provincial and territorial advisory group on the future of physician-assisted death in Canada.
“They’re going to be reporting shortly,” Hoskins said. “That’s important and helpful information to the feds, but it speaks to the need for … especially on this issue, close collaboration.
“If the federal government asks for an extension and are granted that extension, obviously we will work within those parameters.”
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