Feedback on the report of the panel of legal experts studying implementation of the recommendations of the Select Committee on Dying with Dignity.

The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association fully  supports the following message from the Réseau des soins palliatifs du Québec.

The Réseau des soins palliatifs du Québec (RSPQ) has received the report and will be commenting on all recommendations more specifically in the very near future.

The report outlines the laws and charters related to “medical aid in dying” (as written in the report), physician assisted death and euthanasia. Moreover, the committee adeptly explores the changing definitions of terms like free and informed consent, individual autonomy and human dignity.

The practical reality of this argument is much more complex. There are still a number of questions facing doctors who would be expected to provide medical aid in dying. As cited in the report, “The current status of palliative end-of-life care requires a redefinition of the judicial framework to clarify the rights of patients and the responsibilities of stakeholders and professionals,” yet other questions remain. How can healthcare establishments integrate medical aid in dying into their practice? Is end of life palliative sedation clearly defined (as it differs greatly from physician assisted suicide or medical aid in dying)? Have the experiences of families who have lived through these situations been thoroughly examined? Etc.

One of the RSPQ’s main objectives is to increase public awareness for hospice palliative care. It is absolutely essential that we make a distinction between the various end-of-life clinical practices. Foregoing treatment, cessation of treatment, palliative sedation, refusal of treatment and pain relief are all different, and are not the same as euthanasia or “medical aid in dying”.

It is essential that palliative care be developed in all regions of Québec and in all settings of care. A lot of work has already been done, but the lack of human and material resources prevents, for example, homecare teams from being able to provide people with proper end-of-life care. Also, it must be recognized that there are basically no palliative end-of-life programs in the CHSLD, not to mention a lack of training for front line workers or support for professionals, including volunteer teams and caregivers.

The development of palliative care requires budgets that will permit each person to receive high-quality care from trained, qualified staff.

Medical aid in dying is not a form of care and cannot be considered as part of the philosophy of palliative care. Hospice palliative care neither hastens nor delays death: it accompanies it.

The RSPQ is concerned by the needs and expectations of all people nearing the end of life and our efforts are focused on promoting and developing hospice palliative care programs and services across Quebec.

Alberte Déry

President of the Réseau de soins palliatifs du Québec

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Vanessa Sherry

Communications Officer

(613)241-3663 ext. 229

[email protected]