Bill 52 on end-of-life care

A bill that will cause confusion and suffering

Quebec City, October 1, 2013 — By opening the door to euthanasia, Bill 52 on end-of-life care will create confusion and suffering for families of patients and palliative care professionals. That was the essence of the message delivered today to a parliamentary committee studying Bill 52 on end-of-life care by the president of the Réseau de soins palliatifs du Québec (RSPQ), Alberte Déry, and members of an ad hoc committee of experts, namely Danielle Blondeau, (Université Laval professor), Dr. Christiane Martel (palliative care physician) and Pierre Deschamps (lawyer and ethicist).

Bill 52 seeks unprecedented control over a particular type of health care, i.e., end-of-life care. But by conflating euthanasia and end-of-life care, and concepts like terminal palliative sedation and medical aid in dying, the legislative process is complicating palliative care for patients, their families and the professionals who work with them.

Some countries have opened the door to euthanasia, but RSPQ representatives point out that they have done so clearly and without ambiguity. Legislators in both Belgium and Luxemburg understood that there is a fundamental difference between euthanasia and palliative care and took the precaution of separating the two by adopting two distinct laws, one on palliative care and the other on euthanasia, which, unfortunately, the Québec bill does not do. Bill 52 conflates palliative care and medical aid in dying, even making medical aid in dying a form of palliative care. “We are deeply concerned that this bill tries to introduce euthanasia in veiled terms by giving it a new name and incorporating it to the world of palliative care,” the president of the RSPQ said.

The Réseau de soins palliatifs du Québec’s mission is to provide access to quality palliative care for all Quebec residents. The Réseau is a focal point for information, delivery, promotion and training in palliative care. The Réseau has over 1200 members, representing a wide range of disciplines and volunteers, from across Quebec.

To view the RSPQ’s position paper on Bill 52, please click here (French only).

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Source: Jessy Savaria, DG of the RSPQ: 514-826-9400