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Assisted death: Nova Scotia groups want clarity, looser restrictions

Click to play video: 'Assisted-dying Nova Scotia reaction' Assisted-dying Nova Scotia reaction
WATCH ABOVE: The federal government's proposed legislation to allow assisted-dying in Canada is already getting reaction in Nova Scotia. One group says it doesn't go far enough and another wants more clarity. Global's Steve Silva reports – Apr 14, 2016

Reaction to the proposed assisted dying legislation unveiled Thursday is still being formed, but some Nova Scotia groups already have concerns.

“This is so anemic. It really is a mere shadow of what they could have done,” said Sheilia Sperry, the provincial coordinator for Dying With Dignity Canada.

The subject became personal for her after her husband died following his A.L.S. diagnosis.

READ MORE: Canadian government unveils long-awaited assisted-dying law

“If we had been able to talk to a doctor and do what [the federal government is] saying they’re going to allow you to do […] I would have known what to do to help him,” said Sperry, who lives in Dartmouth.
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She said the proposal is too narrow because it doesn’t allow minors, among other groups, to qualify.

The Liberal government said studying loosening the restrictions will take time.

“That bothers me,” Sperry added.

READ MORE: Assisted dying law excludes minors, dementia patients and mental illness sufferers

Dr. Gus Grant, the registrar and CEO of the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Nova Scotia, said the legislation doesn’t provide enough clarity on several issues, including what physicians opposed to granting assisted-dying wishes to patients should do.

He said there could also be problems with the medication that patients use to self-euthanize getting into the wrong hands.

“The challenge is that, in jurisdictions around the world where they have physician-prescribed medication, the majority of patients don’t take the medicine,” said Grant.

Despite the issues, Sperry said she’s pleased the basics of assisted-dying are being met in the plan.

“It’s very iffy in spots, but it’s a start,” she said.

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