On January 15th, the Supreme Court of Canada granted our government an extension of four months to pass national legislation regulating physician assisted dying. The Government asked for this extension from the original deadline of February 6, 2016, due to the election and to ensure that there is sufficient time to work with all provinces and territories on this issue.
The court has ruled that under certain circumstances – in Quebec under the existing law or through superior judicial authorization – physician assisted death could immediately occur legally; however, they also gave the government a four month extension to construct an effective national law, which balances the needs of patients, providers, and their families. Until this time, a Canadian living outside of Quebec who would like to exercise their right to physician assisted death will have to apply to their superior provincial or territorial court for authorization to do so.
Our government has the utmost respect for the decisions of the Supreme Court. We will take the time allotted to us by the Supreme Court to properly develop and implement laws surrounding this important issue.
These next four months will be crucial in ensuring that the most vulnerable Canadians are protected and that the provinces and territories are able to put in place processes to provide physician-assisted dying for Canadians who meet the requirements outlined by the Supreme Court of Canada. The question of “if” physician assisted dying is legal has been decided, the focus now is on “how” it will occur; it’s vital now that we respond effectively with strong and balanced legislation that works for all.
The change in attitudes surrounding mental health has thankfully started with initiatives like Bell Let’s Talk and more local undertakings in Charlottetown. There is much more that needs to be done to remove the stigma and provide the right supports to those suffering from mental health issues, as well as for their friends and families.
I have to thank Atlantic University Sport for partnering with Bell Let’s Talk. On and off the field, coaches and teammates can be a great support group if the right culture is established. Seeing local sports heroes and leaders dealing with their mental health provides a role model for many of our young athletes and youth. We cannot just work on their physical fitness; we must also encourage a healthy mind and spirit.
Here is a great clip from own of our community leaders, Lewis Page, Head Coach for the Men’s UPEI Soccer Team:
Lewis coached both of our sons. He is a big part of their development as players, and for their ongoing love for “The Beautiful Game”. His professionalism, dedication, and technical expertise is the reason why a generation of PEI players have competed so successfully on a national stage. He is an inspiration. I had the profound honour of telling him so yesterday when he visited Parliament Hill as a chaperone to the group of students from Stonepark school.
If you are currently suffering from mental health, resources exist to help when needed:
If you feel you are in danger of hurting yourself or others, please call 9-1-1.
You can also call the Island Helpline toll-free at 1-800-218-2885 or go to your nearest hospital.
If you are looking for medical support, contact your General Practitioner or walk in clinic for a referral to a qualified mental health care professional.
For other community support, you can reach out to the Canadian Mental Health Society- PEI Division at 178 Fitzroy St: (902) 566-3034, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://pei.cmha.ca/, who can direct you to programs and supports available.
Take care of yourself and keep talking to help break the stigma. A sincere thank you to all those who work to support the mental health of our communities.
Starting with the 42nd session of Parliament, Canadians have a new way to make their voices heard: e-petitions. E-petitions are electronic petitions and they permit Canadians the chance to have their issues raised in the House of Commons. Many of you would have signed or submitted a paper petition to me at one time or another; these will continue to be accepted.
Once an e-petition is tabled in the House of Commons, the government is required to respond within 45 calendar days. Like traditional petitions, tabling on in the House does not mean the government will make a law or do what you want, but it will at least acknowledge that your issue has been raised and you will receive a statement on the government’s stance/thoughts on the issue.
If you want to start your own petition the process all occurs online and the exact steps can be found here. The basic steps involve creating an account on the government’s e-petition website, finding a Member of Parliament to sponsor your petition, then posting it to the government’s website and collecting at least 500 signatures within 120 days. Once all these steps have been met, an e-petition will be tabled in the House and the government will respond.
I believe that an important part of democracy is that the voice of citizens be heard. E-petitions present a new way in which citizens can talk with their government. I encourage you to review the website for more information. Please contact my office if you have any questions on the process.
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