Photo: Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press Questioned Tuesday by a journalist who asked her if Ottawa had moved too quickly on the file, Minister Sonia Bélanger replied: “You are practically taking the words out of my mouth.”
Quebec breathes a sigh of relief after Ottawa's decision to postpone the expansion of medical assistance in dying to people affected by serious mental disorders. “I think they weren’t there yet,” said Minister Sonia Bélanger on Tuesday.
The elected official responsible for end-of-life care in Quebec was reacting to the decision taken on Monday by Ottawa to once again postpone the entry into force of certain provisions of its law on medical assistance in dying. People suffering solely from mental illness, who were originally supposed to have access to this care in March, will have to wait at least until after the next Canadian election to know the final decision of the federal government.
“When we haven’t gotten to a place, well, we’re better off delaying. That’s what they did,” Ms. Bélanger said on Tuesday, on the sidelines of a press conference on care assistance in private seniors’ residences. Questioned by a journalist who asked her if Ottawa had moved too quickly on the file, she replied: “You are practically taking the words out of my mouth. »
By expanding its own law last year, Quebec chose to exclude people affected by mental disorders — schizophrenia or serious depression, for example. The College of Physicians of Quebec was one of the groups that advocated for harmonization with the federal legislative framework and an expansion to cases of mental disorders.
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Ottawa, for its part, gave itself one year to make a decision. However, on Monday, a transpartisan report tabled in the House of Commons warned Justin Trudeau's government that it would be “reckless and dangerous” to extend medical assistance in dying to this category of patients as early as March.
Federal Health Minister Mark Holland confirmed this new postponement shortly after.
Waiting for a “consensus”
Questioned on Tuesday, the College of Physicians once again made known its disappointment with Ottawa's decision. “Patients who have suffered from incurable illnesses for years will still have to wait. We believe that the medical community is ready for this expansion,” said its president, Mauril Gaudreault, in a written statement sent to: Devoir.< /p>
“We understand, however, that this approach must be the subject of a broad consensus of society,” he said.
Sonia Bélanger does not see “a short-term horizon” where this could happen. “We are evolving as a society. Then, the day the population, the patients, want to debate this, we will be there in Quebec to do things correctly, in order. But honestly, we’re not there,” the minister said on Tuesday.
The government passed a bill last year to legalize advance requests for medical assistance in dying. At the time of adoption, Minister Bélanger agreed that it would take at most two years to implement the measures in this direction. Relaunched on this subject on Tuesday, she indicated that she would soon provide an update on “all the progress” made by the government in eight months.