The QMA Has Reservations Regarding the Ménard Committee Report
Montréal, January 16, 2013 – The Québec Medical Association (QMA) has reservations regarding the Ménard committee report about introducing legislation in response to the recommendations of the Select Committee on Dying with Dignity. Nevertheless, it recognizes the importance of enshrining in law the right to receive palliative care.
The report’s proposals recognize medically assisted death as appropriate end-of-life care, which introduces a new dimension to medical practice. Physicians would be granted a “right to end life”, providing a therapeutic option in addition to all the medical, surgical or drug treatments already available. However, the situations in which a patient’s physical and psychological suffering cannot be alleviated remain marginal.
The QMA feels that the proposal to put doctors at the centre of the decision would seriously risk eroding the trust between patients, society as a whole and the medical community. “How can a doctor, who is supposed to heal, relieve and comfort, become the person who ends life? Although doctors may refuse, it is unacceptable to put them in a situation that conflicts with the ethical and professional oath they have taken,” stated Dr. Ruth Vander Stelt, President of the QMA.
In 2010, the QMA submitted a brief in parliamentary committee in which it identified the need to bolster the palliative care system. It thus welcomes the recommendation to enshrine in law the right to receive palliative care. This would oblige the MSSS to guide and provide palliative care in an established, centralized framework that allows the greatest possible number of people to die at home or in an environment adapted to end-of-life care.
Medically assisted death appears to be a universal remedy for an exceptional situation. The QMA would rather see the government work harder to improve the accessibility and quality of palliative care. Against this backdrop, the QMA would like to reiterate its interest in working with the Québec government to ensure that more palliative care is offered throughout the province.
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.
For an interview with Dr. Ruth Vander Stelt, contact:
Québec Medical Association
Toll free number: 1-800-363-3932