Our reaction to the tabling of Bill 38 in Quebec

Serious ethical issues on the horizon: how to adopt measures of such magnitude in three weeks?

Urgent need to reflect further on human dignity and its impact on our social choices

The Minister of Health and Social Services, Mr. Christian Dubé, tabled on May 25 a bill to amend the Act respecting end-of-life care and other legislative provisions.

You can read it here.

In addition to complying with the Federal Bill C-7 (withdrawal of end-of-life criteria) and extending access to medical aid in dying (by advance request) to persons who are incapable, as we had feared, this bill contains a very unpleasant surprise: the obligation for hospices to offer medical aid in dying, unless there is an exception – an item that was unfortunately not part of the press release (available in French only), and only briefly mentioned during the Minister’s press conference

We opposed all of these measures in our August 2021 brief to the Quebec Select Committee. We will actively participate in the upcoming consultations. We are particularly distressed to see that the Quebec government is giving in to the demands of the most militant groups and individuals in favour of an all-out expansion of MAiD by lifting the clause for conscience protection that hospice care teams have benefited from since the adoption of the provincial law in 2015. Of the 37 hospices in Quebec, 16 still refuse to offer medical aid in dying under their roof. Do we really want to impose on 43% of hospices a gesture that is in flagrant contradiction with the principles of their team members? (May 27 update by the Alliance des maisons de soins palliatifs du Québec: 13 hospices still refuse to offer MAiD, 5 of which are considering it).

We urge the members of the Quebec National Assembly to refuse to adopt such a major bill in three short weeks. Whether one agrees or not with the provisions of the legislative project, it concerns very serious ethical issues. There is no justification for such a rush.

As an initial response to Bill 38, Living with Dignity wishes to recall the intrinsic dignity of every human being, regardless of their frailty. We therefore take this opportunity to launch the last three videos in the series (currently available in French only) “Élargir l’accès à l’aide médicale à mourir?” (Expanding Access to Medical Assistance in Dying?) featuring
Mr. Louis-André Richard.

Living and dying with dignity

We invite you to watch these three new videos:

1) Vivre et mourir dans la dignité (Living and Dying with Dignity, 10 min.)

Should dignity be confused with individual self-determination?
If it can be lost, can it be gained?
A wonderful reflection on human dignity.

2) L’apparente unanimité (The apparent unanimity, 3 min.)

After a few words inspired by the wisdom of ancient philosophers, a reflection on the apparent unanimity expressed by the entourage of those who wish to leave with medical assistance in dying.

3) La loi de la cigogne (Storks’ Law, 4 min.)

Do you know Storks’ Law from 5th century B.C. Athens?
It invites us to reflect on our individual mortality and its collective impact.

Professor of philosophy, Louis-André Richard has participated in the elaboration of Bill 52 (Quebec law concerning end-of-life care) since 2010. His expertise is in ethical and political philosophy. For more than 15 years, he has provided training in palliative care in Quebec and France. He holds a doctorate in Philosophy, Palliative culture and society, and is the author of several books on the subject, including La cigogne de Minerve. Philosophy, Palliative Culture and Society (Laval University Press, 2018).

These videos complete a series of seven, all of which are available on the Living with Dignity YouTube page (Please note the videos are currently only available in French):

– Peaceful death and dying in peace;

– Before expanding access to medical assistance in dying in Quebec;

– Safeguards for medical assistance in dying for mental disorders?

– Advance directives and end-of-life realities.

 – 30 –

Version française publiée le 25 mai.

Media contact:

Jasmin Lemieux-Lefebvre
Living with Dignity