MAiD expansion imminent as Bill 11 passes in Quebec

  • June 16, 2023

Quebec’s legislature has delivered a triple-whammy expansion of so-called medical aid in dying (MAiD) that includes obliging all palliative care facilities in the province to offer doctor-supplied end of life.

Despite last-ditch opposition from church leaders as well as MAiD-opposed groups such as Living With Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance Against Euthanasia, the National Assembly voted almost unanimously in the early hours of June 7 to approve Bill 11.

Only MNAs Linda Caron and Filomena Rotiroti voted against the Act Respecting End of Life Care, which modified existing legislation governing putting patients to death in medical settings. One MNA abstained in the vote. The amendments do not allow MAiD to be performed in funeral homes, which is currently a a hot topic of debate in Quebec.

Quebec’s own commission on end-of-life care recently crowned it the global per capita kingdom of medicalized killing. It reported that at the end of 2022 more people per capita were dying with medical assistance in Quebec than anywhere else in the world. MAiD requests more than doubled from 1,774 in 2019-2020 to 3,663 in 2021-22. 

Beyond legally requiring palliative care homes to offer MAID, the latest legal expansion drops imminent death as a requirement for receiving lethal injections or deadly substances by other means. It also opens the door for anyone with a severe physical disability to be eligible for MAiD. And within 24 months, Quebecers will be able to order up doctor-delivered death well in advance. Anyone in early stages of dementia, for example, will have access to pre-arranged MAiD even when they are no  longer considered capable of informed consent.

Quebec’s Catholic bishops issued a statement last March reiterating their support for high quality palliative care in the province, and their opposition to the expansion of MAiD.

“We do not agree that medical assistance in dying constitutes ‘health care.’ We are aware that, in the current context, our voice in this matter is practically inaudible. That being said, we hold that any action which intentionally induces the death of a human being is in fact a denial to provide him or her the potential end-of-life care that he or she required. Such intervention cannot be termed ‘care,’ ” the bishops wrote.

Bill 11 was a relaunch of Bill 38, put on hold at the end of the 2022 legislative session.  Euthanasia has been available in Quebec since 2015.

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