2015 Annual Report – Legislation

October 01, 2016

Janet McLean
National Chairperson of Legislation
2015 Annual Report

From all provincial chairperson of legislation reports received, there was no doubt that councils across Canada were concerned, worried and dismayed about the question of upcoming legislation on euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. Provincial reports indicated that members responded to the External Panel on Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v. Canada on assisted dying, established after the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision on the Carter v. Canada case. Members were encouraged to respond to this panel so that legislation, when drafted, would be as restrictive as possible concerning physician-assisted suicide. During campaigning for the October federal election, many members studied the platforms of the candidates, met with them and discussed their concerns; they also encouraged members to vote. Provincial chairpersons of legislation reported members took action with respect to outstanding resolutions relating to requested changes to federal legislation.

Provincial chairpersons monitored legislation in their provinces, and particular areas of concern included mental health issues, human trafficking and advocates for seniors. The need for palliative and end-of-life care was also examined from a provincial legislative perspective.

There were a number of challenges reported by provincial chairpersons, the common one being the lack of members willing to take on this standing committee at the parish and even diocesan level. Reasons for this included the fact that the legislation standing committee was not understood by many members, or they felt they would be overwhelmed with information. It was sometimes felt that not all information or communiqués were shared at the various levels. However, it was also mentioned that one of the greatest rewards of this standing committee was making members aware of and interested in the legislative process and how they could become engaged in it. It seemed like a long process, from the introduction of legislation to its becoming law, but it was rewarding to feel part of it. I recommend that members be educated, through discussion, hands-on training sessions or workshops about the legislation standing committee so that members will have a better understanding of, and be willing to serve as, a chairperson of legislation. I know I have found it a most rewarding experience and my knowledge and understanding of the Canadian legislative process has been enhanced.