Justice Minister David Lametti introduced the latest assisted suicide bill in February but its progress was halted when the House of Commons adjourned in mid-March because of the coronavirus epidemic.
The bill, numbered C-7, is characterized as a "medical assistance in dying" bill. It would modify Bill C-14, passed by Canada's Parliament in 2016 to legalize and regulate doctor-assisted suicide.
In February the Catholic Bishops of Canada voiced "the greatest concern and dismay" about efforts to expand assisted suicide. They condemned "the lamentable legislative aim" of broadening access to assisted dying, and insisted "that every opportunity for due diligence be taken during the parliamentary process." They have said better palliative care is needed.
"We unequivocally affirm and maintain the fundamental belief in the sacredness of all human life, a value that we share with many others in our country, including persons of different faiths and no faith at all," Archbishop of Winnipeg Richard Gagnon, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in an October letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
"Despite the misleading euphemism, 'Medical Assistance in Dying' remains simply euthanasia and assisted suicide – that is, the direct taking of human life or the participation in his/her suicide, which can never be justified," Gagnon added, according to Grandin Media.
A report released by the Canadian government said that more than a third of those who opted for "medical assistance in dying" cited concerns of being a burden to family or carers.
Assisted suicide opponents have warned that legalizing such killings helps increase social or financial pressure on a person to kill him or herself, whether this pressure comes from insurance companies, private or government health care administrations, or relatives. They question how society can campaign against suicide for the healthy or in favor of better palliative care for the ill while justifying assisted suicide at the same time.
They say there is a danger that assisted suicide further marginalizes the disabled, the elderly and the terminally ill and undermines the duty to respect and care for them. People facing treatable conditions could be presented assisted suicide as a better option, they warn.