Quebec to go ahead with assisted dying plan pending appeal case

Quebec is moving forward with its plan to offer legal assisted dying starting on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Quebec’s highest court agreed to hear the provincial government’s appeal of a judge’s order to delay the implementation of legal assisted dying. Arguments in the case will be heard next week, but Wednesday’s decision allows Quebec to move forward with its plan to offering aid in dying starting on Thursday, according to a report in Le Devoir.

As a result, Quebec is set to become the first province in Canada to offer legal assisted dying to patients at end of life.

On Dec. 1, Justice Michel Pinsonnault, of the Quebec Superior Court, issued a court order temporarily suspending the province’s assisted dying law. The plan, he wrote, violates the federal Criminal Code ban on assisted dying, which was struck down by the Supreme Court but remains in effect until Feb. 6 of next year.

Quebec has long argued that its approach to medical aid in dying conforms to the Criminal Code.

Whether the province’s assisted dying provisions remain in effect beyond Dec. 18 not only depend on the result of the appeal; the Supreme Court is deciding soon on how it will treat the federal government’s request for a delay of the decision in Carter vs. Canada. Announced by the Supreme Court on Feb. 6, 2015, the decision struck down the Criminal Code ban on physician assisted dying.

However, the justices of the high court gave the federal government and the provinces 12 months to adopt new rules but didn’t require them to do so.

The federal Liberals, who have been in power since early November, have asked the court for a six-month extension to the grace period.

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