A major project awaits Quebec parliamentarians in the file of medical assistance in dying: in addition to the anticipated requests currently under study, an extension to people with disabilities and those with a mental health disorder should also be considered quickly. , says the College of Physicians.
• Read also: Medical aid in dying: Dubé withdraws the controversial article on people with disabilities
The professional order of doctors was the first group heard in parliamentary committee on Bill 38, Tuesday morning. The piece of legislation would allow people diagnosed with a cognitive disorder (such as Alzheimer's) to make an advance request for medical assistance in dying to be administered when they are no longer able to request it.
Already, this first project raises important questions. How can we assess the suffering of a person unable to communicate it? What happens if a patient who made an advance request categorically refuses to receive MAID?
These issues are "complex" and will need to be discussed with the patient when completing an advance request, the College says.
But Quebec elected officials must be prepared to consider even more complex issues, say its president Dr. Mauril Gaudreault and its director general Dr. André Luyet.
The federal government already provides medical assistance in dying for people with disabilities, which puts physicians in a difficult position as they must determine which law, federal or provincial, applies.
Similarly, the federal government could extend MAID to people with mental disorders as early as next year. The College asks elected officials to provide now that the Quebec law will be harmonized with that of Ottawa as soon as it is adopted.
The Minister of Health, Christian Dubé, acknowledged that major projects remain to be addressed. "It's just another step," he said of his bill.
Well known for her work on the issue of medical assistance in dying, PQ MNA Véronique Hivon stressed that elected officials must first create a consensus before moving forward on this file.
More details will follow.