The government has to write a new law within a year or the law will be struck down.
Of course, that’s part of the problem right there. The same thing happened with some of the prostitution laws a year or so ago… the replacement law pushed through by the current government is pretty much as bad as the old law in all the ways that are important, and the general consensus of the legal community I’ve heard is that it will get knocked over the moment it gets to a Supreme Court challenge. The current group of legislators aren’t the sorts of people I would want trying to make law on an issue like this.
Of course, when the original marriage laws got struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada for being discriminatory, Paul Martin was smart in that he basically pre-ran the proposed new legislation past the Supreme Court first, then came back and put it in front of Parliament. That made it easier to convince some of the fence-sitters, who were more concerned about not having to go through this again than about the actual details of the law. Of course, that isn’t something you can do very often.
Personally, I think this is the sort of thing that is really best done by the legislators… I just don’t trust the current set of legislators. And this is all complicated by the fact that the health system is officially provincial jurisdiction, not federal, and there are limits to just how far the federal government is willing to push on that. (Which is also why, as has been noted before, Canada’s abortion access is such a shoddy patchwork in places.)