Minister François Bonnardel wishes to have the choice to die with dignity if Alzheimer's disease strikes him one day, as it afflicts his own mother, a prisoner of his body for fifteen years now.
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In 2017, the elected caquist launched a cry from the heart for us to debate the extension of medical aid in dying to incapacitated people.
Five years later, he is moved that the National Assembly is seized of a bill allowing people suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia to submit an advance request.
“This is an incredible advancement for medical assistance in dying and it will give this choice, this free choice, to people who have a history, who will perhaps reach this stage one day, to say to themselves, me , I don't want that to happen to me and what I want is a death with dignity. And me, today, I would be ready for that, ”he confides, in an interview with our Parliamentary Office.
Like thousands of Quebecers, François Bonnardel suffered enormously from seeing his mother's cognitive health deteriorate, day after day, year after year.
More than 150,000 people have Alzheimer's in Quebec.
« Super tough »
The first signs of the disease give rise to sad moments, which are difficult for loved ones to live with. "It's super tough," he slips, his eyes in the water.
At first, these are small oversights, stories told twice, three times.
Then, Yolande Tremblay gets lost on the road to the house. Letting her go out alone becomes dangerous.
However, she is convinced that everything is fine, that there is nothing wrong with her. A particularly difficult stage for the family.
When François Bonnardel suggests that she go take a cognitive test, she rages.
"That's it, you think I'm crazy, you want my money," she said. No, mum, that's not it...", remembers the minister with emotion, sobs in his voice.
A lost face
For six or seven years now, Yolande has not reacted to any stimulus.
“She is really a 100% prisoner of her body. She no longer speaks, she no longer laughs, it is a face that is lost, that is lost in her soul, and a body that is prisoner of a brain that no longer responds, ”laments her son.
According to him, Quebec has reached the stage of extending the scope of medical aid in dying to people who will become incapacitated.
The caquiste hopes that the bill tabled this week by his colleague Christian Dubé will be adopted before the summer.
There are only two weeks left before the end of parliamentary work, but with the consent of all political parties, everything is possible in the National Assembly, he insists.
As was the case in 2014, when the End-of-Life Care Act was passed, MNAs must once again be able to vote freely on this delicate and important issue, without having the traditional party line imposed on them, adds François Bonnardel.
Of course, this new law will not change anything for his mother, now 85 years old, in the last stage of the disease.
But he would like all citizens to be able to make an early request in the future.
He includes himself in it. "Somewhere, you say to yourself, it could happen...".
Source: Alzheimer Society of Quebec