Quebec to hold public consultations on expanding criteria for medically assisted dying law

Click to play video: 'Quebec contemplating amending Dying with Dignity law' Quebec contemplating amending Dying with Dignity law
WATCH: A new report out Friday is recommending Quebec modify its medical aid in dying law to allow people to give prior consent. The proposal comes from a committee of experts appointed by the Quebec government to study the issue. Global's Raquel Fletcher explains. – Nov 29, 2019

The Quebec government hopes to expand the criteria for the province’s medically assisted dying law and plans to hold public consultations on the issue in the coming months.

Health Minister Danielle McCann made the announcement on Friday alongside members of all political parties following a report from experts tasked at looking at the legislation for medically assisted deaths in Quebec.

“I think the Quebec population has great expectations in this dossier and wants us to really proceed,” she said.

READ MORE: Quebec has no plans to appeal ruling that struck down parts of assisted dying law

The 150-page report comes after experts studied the law and spoke to professionals over an 18-month period from December 2017 to June 2019.

The authors doled out 14 recommendations, including allowing Quebecers to provide advanced consent for medical aid to die and allowing others to apply for it following the diagnosis of a serious and incurable illness.

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The report also suggests making quality palliative care accessible across the province.

Véronique Hivon, the Parti Québécois MNA who spearheaded the province’s original bill in 2013, welcomed the debate over expanding the law.

“I thought it would be a very important debate once we would see there’s no slippery slope, that things can be handled very well,” she said. “And that it’s a great way to relieve people to know that this insurance policy exists if a worst case scenario happens, you can have medical aid in dying.”

READ MORE: Quebec court hands down ‘robust rejection’ of assisted dying criteria. Here’s what to know

A Quebec Superior Court judge ruled in September that both Quebec and Canada’s laws on assisted dying were too restrictive and therefore unconstitutional.

Justice Christine Baudouin ruled in favour of Nicole Gladu and Jean Truchon, both of whom suffer from incurable degenerative diseases, who argued they were denied a medically assisted death under laws that are discriminatory.

In her ruling, the judge agreed the provisions forced people with incurable illnesses and suffering to continue living a life that no longer made sense to them.

The committee for end-of-life care, which oversees the application of the provincial legislation, welcomed the report. President Michel Bruneau applauded the “cautious and very nuanced” approach by experts.

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However, McCann vows the province will not make any amendments to the current law before the public consultations are underway.

“We share this responsibility together,” she said.

— With files from Global News’ Raquel Fletcher and The Canadian Press

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