Quebec confirms its first legal death by euthanasia

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  • January 15, 2016

The first death by legal euthanasia in Canadian history has occurred, according to a Quebec healthcare spokesperson.

An adult in the Quebec City area was euthanized earlier this month, confirmed Annie Ouellet. She also confirmed that a second request for euthanasia is under review.

“There was a request for end of life care, and we have responded to it,” said Ouellet, a spokesperson of the health and social services centre for the Quebec City region.

The patient who was euthanized died in a hospital, she said.

Ouellett wouldn’t provide any other details regarding the date, hospital, doctor, patient or the what the euthanized person had suffered from, citing patient confidentiality.

Quebec passed what it calls "medical aid in dying" last year and the controversial bill survived court challenges and became law last Dec. 10.

Although euthanasia and assisted suicide fall under the Criminal Code and federal jurisdiction, Quebec maintains its euthanasia law is part of healthcare and therefore a provincial matter.

The federal government has said it will not contest Quebec's position as Ottawa works to draft its own legislation for assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Assisted suicide will be legal across Canada on Feb. 6 as a result of a Supreme Court decision last February that struck down a blanket ban on assisted suicide. At the time, the Court suspended the decision for one year to allow Parliament time to draft legislation.

Ottawa lawyers have requested a six-month extension to the suspension. A decision on that request is pending.

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