25 May 2014

Dying with dignity in Quebec

Quebec's new Liberal government has decided to reintroduce Bill 52, the end-of-life care bill first tabled by the PQ in June 2013. The legislation will allow terminally ill patients to request medical assistance in dying if they suffer from an incurable illness that is in an advanced state and which inflicts intolerable physical and psychological pain. The bill has been welcomed by the province's medical, legal and political communities.

There will be a free vote and members of all parties are expected to support the bill. The PQ had never presented the issue in a partisan manner, and it is encouraging to see the Liberals adopt the same bipartisan approach. The new premier, Philippe Couillard, seems to  be keeping his word to be more inclusive.

The other provinces should take note. An Environics Institute survey late last year revealed that 68 per cent of Canadians believe those who help seriously ill people commit suicide should not be charged with a crime. Only 16 per cent felt charges should be laid.

It has always seemed presumptuous to me for others to dictate what you can do with your life. If you are unable to make rational decisions because of depression or other mental condition, that is a different matter. But for someone of sane mind who has no future to look forward to but one of profound suffering, your right over your own life deserves respect. Bill 52 shows that respect.


  1. Oregon's Death with Dignity Act has been dispelled the myths always raised by opponents of end of life initiatives.


    If you meet Oregon's rigorous tests you can obtain a prescription for life-ending drugs. The individual is not required to fill the prescription or take the drugs.

    What's telling is that many who are approved don't fill the prescription and those that do often don't take the drugs. These people find they can endure the dying process without the drugs. In effect, they are allowed to die knowing that, if dying becomes unbearable, they have an option for relief. Dying can be less fearful, more humane. Those who refuse this relief are cruel and inhumane.

  2. The prescription drug approach is very humane indeed.