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Quebec politician makes plea for Alzheimer’s patients to have access to doctor-assisted death

Alzheimer’s sufferers could have access to end-of-life service
WATCH ABOVE:Quebec health minister Gaétan Barrette has opened the door for public debate to legalize medically-assisted dying for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Global's Raquel Fletcher reports.

Quebec politician François Bonnardel made an emotional call Thursday to expand the debate on doctor-assisted death to include Alzheimer’s disease.

“For too long now, fifteen years now, I’ve seen my mother, no longer able to recognize me, no longer smile, speak nor enjoy life,” said the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) MNA.

READ MORE: Montreal doctor fighting assisted-dying law in Quebec

He said his mother, now 80, has become a prisoner of her own body.

“These last three years, I have wished that the Good Lord would come and take her home,” Bonnardel said.

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READ MORE: Woman says hospice house staff won’t let her die

On Tuesday, a Montreal man was charged with second-degree murder in the death of his wife, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.

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On his Facebook page, Michel Cadotte wrote that he “cracked” and “responded to her request for aide to die.”

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The CAQ says it hopes this tragedy will push the National Assembly to expand the current law.

About 45,000 people suffer from the disease in Quebec.

READ MORE: Opponents of assisted-dying law ready for court challenge

These patients don’t have the right to assisted death because they need to give their consent before it takes over their mind.

If the law is amended, people facing a degenerative disease would be able to ask in advance – for example, at the time of their diagnosis – for doctor-assisted death.

READ MORE: After criticism, MUHC clarifies its assisted-dying policy

It was an issue debated while the current legislation was introduced, but there was no consensus.

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A Quebec MNA made an emotional call Thursday to expand the debate on doctor-assisted death to include Alzheimer's disease, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017.
A Quebec MNA made an emotional call Thursday to expand the debate on doctor-assisted death to include Alzheimer’s disease, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. Global News

“As I repeat all the time, we would not have a legislation today if that question had been put in it,” said Parti Québécois (PQ) MNA Vérnonique Hivon.

READ MORE: Assisted-dying in Canada: What you need to know about the new law

“When Bill 52 was adopted, it wasn’t at all the end of the story. To me, it was the least common denominator,” said Health Minister Gaétan Barrette.

“So, I am not closing any doors.”

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Bonnardel tried to explain he would be ready to accept his mother’s decision if she had given advanced consent 15 years ago, but wasn’t able to finish his sentence.

READ MORE: Most Canadians disagree with Liberals, want advance consent for assisted death: Ipsos poll

“Well, it’s hard to say,” he said before leaving the press conference.

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