Federal bill on medical aid in dying - The QMA welcomes the federal bill with some reservations (Press Release)

The Quebec Medical Association (QMA) is pleased with the bill introduced today by the federal government in response to the Supreme Court's ruling invalidating the Criminal Code's provisions regarding voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The QMA agrees that medical aid in dying should be accessible only to consenting adults. "In Quebec, the Act Respecting End-of-Life Care has only been in effect since December 2015," said QMA president, Dr. Yun Jen. Society and the medical profession should take the time to understand the new legal and ethical provisions before extending  access to medical aid in dying to minors."

Moreover, the QMA supports the idea of allowing non-terminally ill people to seek medical aid in dying if they suffer from a serious and incurable health condition. "Fundamentally, said Dr. Jen, it is the irremediable pain and the irreversible loss of dignity that push a patient to request medical aid in dying."

However, the QMA has strong reservations regarding the exemption granted to whoever helps administer the prescribed substance to a patient in the medical aid in dying context, in the absence of any specific clinical, regulatory or legislative framework. The QMA believes that it is rather the physician`s professional duty to be present during all stages of the medical aid in dying process, which is tightly regulated and documented. Medically assisted death is an act too important to be performed by amateurs.

Lastly, the QMA would like to note that there are marked differences between Quebec`s current law and the federal one. Quebec will have to move quickly and issue a ruling regarding the role of physicians to remove any ambiguities that could harm their work.