A terminally ill Quebec City man made a public plea Thursday asking the Quebec government to pressure Ottawa to change the federal law on assisted suicide so he can end his life with dignity.

Andre Dion, 67, who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and bone cancer, sent an open letter to French-language newspapers across Quebec.

The letter was addressed to Quebec Health Minister Yves Bolduc.

Dion had asked social worker Yvon Bureau to help him write the letter.

"He has to take like 40 pills a day, and it's very hard for him to live," said Bureau.

"He has a great faith in Dr. Bolduc, and he [thinks] he can make pressure on Ottawa for a real debate on physician-assisted dying," Bureau said.

In the letter, Dion wrote:

"Mr. Minister, I need your help to die with dignity.

"I need compassion and respect of my free choice to end my life."

Last December at a landmark trial in the Saguenay, Stephan Dufour, 30, was found not guilty of helping his uncle die two years ago. The Crown has appealed that ruling.

"The right to choose your own death is a desire, something which gives individuals legitimacy," said Dr. Hubert Marcoux, an ethicist with Laval University. "We need to discuss this as a society and decide if it's socially acceptable."

In Bureau's view, terminally ill patients should have the option to die on their own terms.

"We are talking about the dying process, and we're talking about [a] dying person, and they want help and to die in dignity," he said.

Doctors say Dion only has a few months to live.

"He will be able to live 'till next summer, but I think he knows [it will be] very hard," Bureau said.

It's this pain and agony, Bureau said, that Dion and others like him shouldn't have to live through.

Bolduc refused to comment on the letter.

But a spokesperson for the health ministry said, although the ministry is sympathetic to the cause, there's really nothing it can do.