Quebec to legalize doctor-assisted suicide
Quebec's new government plans to table legislation legalizing doctor-assisted suicide by this spring.
"We really feel that it is necessary to put forward such a possibility for people who, at the end of their life, are suffering in an unbearable manner," says social services junior minister Véronique Hivon.
She says the idea was part of the Parti Quebecois' election platform, and was also recommended by an all-party National Assembly committee last spring.
She says her bill will be based on that committee's report. It's guidelines said patients should only have access to the service if they are adult Quebec residents with a serious and incurable illness, and have given their express written consent.
"We're really talking about people who have unbearable suffering and who have no chance of improving their quality of life and whose death is really going to happen," says Hivon
likely to pass
Although the Parti Quebecois has a minority government, the CAQ, which holds the balance of power, has already said it supports the measure. The Liberals have not taken a position on the subject.
battle over jurisdiction?
Quebec has no power over the criminal code, which forbids doctor-assisted suicide.
However, Hivon is arguing that Quebec will be able to pass this law without Ottawa. "Quebec has jurisdiction over health and also over professional qualifications," she says. "So this gives us the confidence to introduce this medical aid in dying in our bill."
In order to be as thorough as possible, Hivon says the Parti Quebecois would also issue a directive to crown prosecutors to not enforce the part of the criminal code that bans doctor-assisted suicide, as long as a case fits the province's criteria.
It is unclear whether the Harper government would accept the Parti Quebecois' interpretation of the law.
photo of: Véronique Hivon