The Senate of Canada’s chamber is pictured in Ottawa, Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. Senators will be burning the midnight oil tonight as they continue debating and proposing amendments to a bill that would expand access to medical assistance in dying. CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The Senate of Canada’s chamber is pictured in Ottawa, Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. Senators will be burning the midnight oil tonight as they continue debating and proposing amendments to a bill that would expand access to medical assistance in dying. CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Senators extend sitting hours as court deadline for MAID bill looms

Senators have already approved several substantial amendments to the bill

Senators will be burning the midnight oil tonight as they continue debating and proposing amendments to a bill that would expand access to medical assistance in dying.

The extended hours are part of the Senate’s determination to wrap up final debate and put the bill to a final vote by next Wednesday.

The schedule is intended to give the government time to meet the thrice-extended court-imposed deadline of Feb. 26 for bringing the law into compliance with a 2019 Quebec Superior Court ruling.

That ruling struck down a provision that allows access to assisted dying only for intolerably suffering people whose natural deaths are reasonably foreseeable.

Senators have already approved several substantial amendments to the bill, including one that would allow people who fear losing mental capacity to make advance requests for assisted death and another that would impose an 18-month time limit on the bill’s proposed ban on assisted dying for people suffering solely from mental illnesses.

If senators approve an amended bill, it will have to go back to the House of Commons to decide whether to accept or reject the changes and then back to the Senate to decide whether to accept the Commons’ verdict.

The Canadian Press

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