A First Year of Euthanasia in Quebec


Montreal, January 24, 2017 – December 10th 2016 marked the end of the first year of euthanasia in Quebec, better known under the euphemism “medical aid in dying”.

Living with Dignity is very concerned that the government of Quebec is prioritizing euthanasia to the detriment of significant improvements in palliative care, which were promised by the Couillard government prior to the coming into force of the Act Respecting End-of-Life Care.We are also concerned about the issues raised by the study published yesterday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, in which the authors conclude that "Medical assistance in dying could reduce annual health care spending across Canada ".
Euthanasia in Quebec: the Story Repeats Itself
While euthanasia had been sold as an “exceptional measure for exceptional cases,” the first year of the law’s coming into effect shows us that the experience of Belgium and the Netherlands is being repeated here:

  • already, the number of euthanasia cases is increasing at an exponential rate in Quebec;
  • the criteria of the law have already been violated many times: 21 cases of abuse in only one year, and no consequences are foreseen;
  • the criteria of the law are already under pressure to be extended;
  • the obvious link between suicide and “medical aid in dying” has resulted in the death of many people who needed help and suicide prevention;
  • the “safeguards” are already beginning to be abandoned;
  • access to palliative care has not been improved and there has not been any follow-up on it;

Living with Dignity’s Demands to the Government of Quebec

  1. Mandate a coroner to shed light on the circumstances concerning the 21 deaths via euthanasia that did not meet the criteria established by the law, and formulate recommendations to the government to ensure that other cases of criminal abuse do not occur;
  1. Draw up a concrete picture of access to palliative care to show the public whether the Act Respecting End-of-Life Care has improved access to palliative care as promised by the Minister of Health, Gaétan Barrette;
  1. Publicly release the figures and details of the costs related to the specific implementation of “medical aid in dying”, compared to investments directly related to the improvement of palliative care for the same period;
  1. Establish a process for the timely collection of data on palliative care by institutions, to enable the Commission to quantify the improvement in their accessibility.