October 20, 2019

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Eyolfson says he has no concerns with right-to-die legislation

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Dr. Doug Eyolfson, MP for Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley.</p>

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Dr. Doug Eyolfson, MP for Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/4/2016 (1272 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — Manitoba's doctor-turned-politician in the federal Liberal caucus says he has no reservations about voting in favour of a bill that legalizes physician-assisted suicide for patients suffering from an incurable illness.

Doug Eyolfson, the Liberal MP for Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley, told the Free Press Monday the legislation introduced April 14 by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, is a good start to address this tough topic.

"I will vote for it absolutely," said Eyolfson. "As a physician I think there are people who should have that choice."

Bill C-14 allows for competent adults who are suffering from an illness or disability where death is "reasonably foreseeable" to request assistance to die from a doctor or nurse practitioner. There are several safeguards including that the request be in writing, witnessed by independent people, and that two independent doctors or nurse practitioners review the case and agree the patient meets the criteria.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/4/2016 (1272 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — Manitoba's doctor-turned-politician in the federal Liberal caucus says he has no reservations about voting in favour of a bill that legalizes physician-assisted suicide for patients suffering from an incurable illness.

Doug Eyolfson, the Liberal MP for Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley, told the Free Press Monday the legislation introduced April 14 by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, is a good start to address this tough topic.

"I will vote for it absolutely," said Eyolfson. "As a physician I think there are people who should have that choice."

Bill C-14 allows for competent adults who are suffering from an illness or disability where death is "reasonably foreseeable" to request assistance to die from a doctor or nurse practitioner. There are several safeguards including that the request be in writing, witnessed by independent people, and that two independent doctors or nurse practitioners review the case and agree the patient meets the criteria.

Eyolfson worked as an emergency room doctor for 17 years in Winnipeg before being elected to the House of Commons last fall. He said in the emergency department he never came across a patient who expressed a desire for help to die but he has colleagues who have.

Eyolfson did have concerns with some of the recommendations from the all-party committee that looked at this issue earlier this year, including that the right to die be extended to mature minors and those suffering from mental illnesses.

"If there is someone with depression who is asking to die, well you need to treat depression," said Eyolfson.

The legislation is not the end of the discussion on the matter, he said. The government is trying to meet a deadline of June 6, when the Supreme Court decision which lifted the blanket ban on assisted suicide takes effect. Wilson-Raybould has said the government will further study issues raised by the committee.

Eyolfson will be joined in voting for the legislation by a majority of Manitoba Liberals. Manitoba's two ministers, Jim Carr and MaryAnn Mihychuk, will be required to vote for the bill, as are all members of cabinet. Four of the other five Manitoba Liberals also intend to vote for the bill.

"I've watched too many family members suffer through long, protracted, incurable diseases where assisted dying would have been beneficial and it would have been asked for," said Saint Boniface - Saint Vital MP Dan Vandal

Vandal said residents of his riding is conflicted on the legislation, noting the high number of Catholics in the area. But he said people need to remember not passing the legislation does not mean assisted dying remains illegal in all forms. The Supreme Court last year ruled it was against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to entirely ban the practice and said competent adults suffering from a grievous and irremediable illness or disability should have the right to ask for help to die.

If the bill doesn't pass, as of June 6, there will be an allowance for assisted dying but without any of the regulations or safeguards included with this legislation.

Winnipeg South MP Terry Duguid and Winnipeg North MP Kevin Lamoureux both told the Free Press they will support the bill. However Winnipeg Centre MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette will not. He did not respond to a request to speak to the Free Press Monday but he recently told APTN he will vote against the bill because of his spiritual beliefs. He is also concerend there are mixed messages being sent to indigenous youth on reserves such as Pimicikimak Cree Nation in Manitoba and Attawapiskat First Nation in Ontario, where the number of young people committing suicide or attempting to, has led to a state of emergency.

Lamoureux said he's hopeful the legislation will pass in time for the June 6 deadline but said that largely depends on the co-operation of other parties and the Senate. The House of Commons will resume debate on the bill May 2.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

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