Press Release : Report by the Select Committee on Dying with Dignity

An Argument in Favour of Better Palliative Care

Montréal, March 23, 2012 – The Québec Medical Association (QMA) welcomes the report by the Select Committee on Dying with Dignity, which was tabled in the National Assembly this morning, with great interest.

QMA president Dr. Ruth Vander Stelt is quick to commends the political courage of the committee members who led a debate that affects all of Québec society. “The committee also did an excellent job in clarifying the different concepts associated with end-of-life care.”

The QMA welcomes the many recommendations aimed at increasing the availability of palliative care throughout Québec, in particular the availability of in-home care for people who choose to die at home and for their families. These recommendations echo what the QMA pointed out in the discussion paper it tabled before the parliamentary committee in February 2010. Even though the issue of palliative care is the focus of a large part of the committee’s recommendations, the QMA is nevertheless asking for a clear, rapid commitment from the government in this matter.

The QMA also salutes the recommendations aimed at recognizing advanced medical directives. “It is essential that these directives appear in the patient’s file and that they are binding,” stated the QMA president. “It is as important for the patients as it is for the medical team.”

As for the recommendation to recognize medically assisted death as appropriate end-of-life care, the QMA feels that this should be extensively analysed and discussed before becoming fully operational in clinical environments. “Not all physicians will accept to play this role in assisting a patient to die,” warns Dr. Vander Stelt. “Even if the patient’s will is recognized as taking precedence, conscientious objectors are certain to speak out. It will therefore be necessary to find alternative solutions, keeping the best interests of patients in mind.”

The QMA will be conducting a thorough analysis of the report over the next few days.

About the QMA

The QMA is made up of close to 10,000 general practitioners, specialists, residents and medical students. Its mission is to bring together the members of Québec’s medical community in a context that promotes reflection and action in order to improve the conditions for practising medicine and the health of Québec’s population.

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For an interview with Dr. Ruth Vander Stelt, contact:

Mélissa Bourgoin
Communications Consultant
Québec Medical Association
Telephone 514.866 0660 (toll free: 1-800-363-3932)
Cell: 514.703 4910
melissa.bourgoin@amq.ca