January 23, 2020

National Association of Catholic Nurses-Canada
P.O. Box 19525, 55 Bloor St. West, Toronto ON M4W 3T9

Hon. David Lametti,
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada,
House of Commons, Ottawa ON K1A 0A6


Dear Mr. Lametti,

We are writing on behalf of the National Association of Catholic Nurses-Canada (NACN-Canada) in response to your request for consultation regarding the recent Quebec Superior Court’s Truchon decision. In our opinion, access to medically induced death must not extend beyond those who consent immediately before the procedure, nor to those under 18, nor to those with chronic illness as the sole underlying condition. We also advocate a trial of palliative care as a precondition for the application for medically induced death. This does not imply that any palliative care team or hospice be compelled to refer patients for medically induced death.

We have encouraged our members to respond to the online survey. Unfortunately, the consultation process provides a very brief timeline, therefore excluding important stakeholders including our patients.

Additionally, the requirement for internet access and the word limit in each comment section pose a barrier for meaningful input.

Our association formed in June, 2018 in response to the cascading effects of the Carter decision on health care professionals and their patients across Canada. Our members are academics, clinical leaders, and direct care nurses who work in hospitals, universities, and patients’ homes. We have direct experience with people of all ages near the end of their lives, and those who experience life-long or progressive disability in the context of chronic illness. We have experience in suicide prevention and the relief of physical, emotional, and mental suffering, without recourse to any participation in medically induced death. This impacts our continued employment when a manager cannot accommodate our commitment. We urge you to draft legislation to protect all Canadian health professionals and faith-based facilities from coercion and repercussions for their religious objections to participation in medically induced death.

The current exclusion of advanced directives protects patients who subsequently can no longer express a changed decision in words. Sadly, we read of a patient whose advanced directive was used to justify the injection of lethal medications despite her physical resistance. Relatives restrained her. Expanding the eligibility criteria for medically induced death places children and adults with chronic illness and disabilities at greater risk of coercion to request death. This obscures the moral obligation to fund better services for them to live well.

We will be pleased to provide further input. Please feel free to contact us.

Freida Chavez, RN MHSc, DNP FAAN
President, NACN-Canada

President-Elect, NACN-Canada

Rev. Peter Turrone, PhD
Chaplain, NACN-Canada