Quebec End of Life Bill Introduced

Today a controversial end of life bill is being introduced in Quebec. If passed, this would be the first jurisdiction in Canada to legalize euthanasia. The Criminal Code prohibits assisted suicide, so it seems likely that this bill will not pass or, if passed, will be challenged. This bill raises issues similar to what we have seen in the realm of reproductive law – who has the power to decide issues that relate to both health (a provincial matter) and crime (a federal matter)?

The bill, entitled An Act respecting end-of-life care, states that only a patient who meets the following criteria may obtain medical aid in dying:

(1) be of full age, be capable of giving consent to care and be an insured person within the meaning of the Health Insurance Act (chapter A-29);(2) suffer from an incurable serious illness;(3) suffer from an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability; and(4) suffer from constant and unbearable physical or psychological pain which cannot be relieved in a manner the person deems tolerable.

The bill does not limit the right of health professionals to refuse to provide or take part in providing end-of- life care for reasons of conscience.

UPDATE: Bill 52 passed in June 2014.
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