Dying With Dignity Canada congratulates Quebec, makes submission to Supreme Court

Dying With Dignity Canada congratulates the Province of Quebec for offering patients at end of life medical aid in dying starting on Thursday.

After a judge with the Superior Court of Quebec suspended the provincial government’s plan to offer legal assisted dying, Quebec’s Attorney General requested an appeal of the delay. Wednesday’s judgment by the Quebec Court of Appeal allows the province to proceed with its physician assisted dying law while the appeal case is pending.

The leading organization helping Canadians to avoid unwanted, unnecessary suffering at end of life, Dying With Dignity Canada thanks the provincial government for moving forward with its plan to offer compassionate choice to terminally ill Quebecers.

“For 30 years, we’ve been at the bedside of grievously ill Canadians whose suffering had become intolerable to them,” said Dying With Dignity Canada CEO Wanda Morris. “Today, in Quebec, compassionate assistance to die can be provided openly, with not only the scrutiny, but also the support, of the provincial government. This is a landmark day for Quebec, for Canada, and for the rights of dying patients.”

Speaking out a against delay of Supreme Court's decision

Thursday will also see the organization submit arguments to the Supreme Court opposing a delay in implementing the high court’s ruling in Carter v. Canada. The decision, which strikes down the Criminal Code ban on physician assisted dying, was set to come into effect on Feb. 6, 2016. However, the federal government has asked the court for six more months to respond to the ruling.

In its submission to the Supreme Court, DWDC argues an extension is unnecessary and would force needless, unwanted suffering upon some of the country’s most desperately ill patients. “I am deeply concerned the government feels it must choose between carefully crafted legislation and the imminent availability of assisted dying,” said Morris. “This is a false choice. Existing regulations can ensure that physician assisted dying is practised responsibly while the federal government takes the necessary time to develop thoughtful new rules.”

When asked if this approach would lead to a patchwork of regulation across the country, Morris responded: “Better a temporary patchwork than no support at all.”

DWDC has also asked that, if the Supreme Court is planning to grant an extension, a process be put in place to allow patients experiencing extreme suffering to apply for a special exemption from the delay.

“The Supreme Court demonstrated incredible compassion and courage when it struck down the cruel, outdated ban on assisted dying,” said Morris. “We hope the justices on the court will extend the same compassion towards patients who have already waited almost a year to exercise their hard-won right to a peaceful death.”

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