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The Bloc relaunches the debate on advance requests for medical assistance in dying in cases of dementia

Photo: Justin Tang The Canadian Press Yves-Francois Blanchet, in the foyer of the House of Commons, April 16, in Ottawa.

Katrine Desautels – The Canadian Press

Posted at 7:22 a.m.

  • Canada

The Bloc Québécois wants the federal government to allow advance requests for medical assistance in dying (MAID) for people suffering from a cognitive neurodegenerative disorder, such as Alzheimer's. He plans to submit a bill to this effect in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Quebec has already adopted a law allowing people with serious degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's to request medical assistance in dying and to receive this procedure once their condition has worsened. However, it is still not possible for medical personnel to ensure that the wishes of these patients are respected since the Criminal Code does not allow medical assistance in dying to be given to a person who suffers from dementia and who would have done an advance request.

The aim of the bill is that MAID can be provided under a provincial regime which provides that a person suffering from illness leading to incapacity can make a request for medical assistance in dying and receive it once she has become incapacitated.

“We are tabling a bill that would allow us to move forward, because the problem we have — and it is the College of Physicians who says this — is that even if the Attorney General of Quebec said: ‘ 'I'm not suing if you proceed,' the fact remains that doctors, families or anyone else could be targeted by a private lawsuit,” the Bloc Québécois spokesperson for medical aid explained in an interview. die, Luc Thériault.

He specified that the bill calls for the expansion of MAID to the extent that a province or territory has a legislative framework and regulatory. “At that point, the Criminal Code would allow us to move forward,” he said.

According to Mr. Thériault, Quebec law is clear, precise and “is not likely to cause confusion”. He believes that it could become a model for other Canadian legislation.

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Quebec law regulates requests for MAID based on informed consent. “Alzheimer’s is not something devastating, it develops, we see degeneration coming. The decision-making capacity is there for quite a long time”, indicates the MP for Montcalm.

If the Bloc's bill were adopted, a Quebecer suffering from dementia could give early consent to MAID if he still has the capacity to do so in an informed manner.

A Special Joint Committee that examined the provisions of the MAID legislation tabled a report in 2023. It looked at scenarios that were not covered by MAID and had to make a recommendation whether or not to expand the 'AMM for these cases.

M. Thériault does not understand why the Liberals waited for the committee's recommendation regarding people suffering from mental illness, but that they are not moving on cognitive neurodegenerative diseases when the committee made a recommendation favorable to advance requests concerning these diseases.

“It is one of the strongest recommendations, the most majority, which had the most consensus. The government has not taken up this recommendation and it has been a while, more than a year,” he laments.

A petition which has so far collected 2,826 signatures asks, on behalf of the citizens of Quebec, the Minister of Justice to modify the Criminal Code so that Quebec can apply its law on advance requests legally. The petition highlights that 83% of Canadians and 88% of Quebecers are in favor of advance requests.

Health content from The Canadian Press obtains funding through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. The Canadian Press is solely responsible for editorial choices.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116