Quebec's assisted dying law will inspire other provinces, supporters say

Now that the right to die is enshrined in Quebec, supporters of assisted dying are hoping other provinces will follow its lead.

Federal justice minister commended Quebec's leadership on doctor-assisted dying

Wanda Morris, chief executive of Dying with Dignity Canada, hopes other provinces will draft patient-centric laws allowing assisted dying. (

Now that the right to die is enshrined in Quebec, supporters of assisted dying are hoping other provinces will follow its lead.

"I think they could take a leaf out of Quebec's book and create legislation that is similarly patient-centric," said Wanda Morris, CEO of the non-profit Dying with Dignity Canada. Her group has been advocating for this kind of law since the early 80s.

On Tuesday, the Quebec Court of Appeal overturned a Dec. 1 Quebec Superior Court judgment that suspended the province's law, Bill 52, until certain provisions of the Criminal Code were changed.

In the ruling, the Court of Appeal said the Quebec law doesn't contravene sections of the federal Criminal Code related to assisted dying because they were struck down by Canada's Supreme Court last February.

"What an amazing day that a province in Canada would have the compassion to offer this option of a peaceful death," Morris said.

Supreme Court decision puts pressure on feds

People like Morris are optimistic other provinces will follow suit. A Supreme Court decision in February said doctors should be allowed to help terminal patients die in specific situations.

The federal government has asked for the original deadline to be extended until August, so it can come up with a new law that recognizes the right to assisted dying.

"We recognize the leadership that Quebec has demonstrated in developing its own legislation on physician-assisted dying," federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said in a statement.

Quebec Opposition MNA Veronique Hivon gets emotional as she reacts to the Supreme Court judgment on medically assisted suicide, Friday, Feb. 6, 2015 at the legislature in Quebec City. Hivon led the way to the Quebec legislation allowing medically assisted suicide. (Jacques Boissinot/CP)

"We will continue to work with Quebec, as well as the other provinces and territories, to develop a coordinated approach to physician-assisted dying across the country."

Quebec MNA Véronique Hivon, who co-authored Bill 52, believes the province will provide an example for the entire country.

"We see that we're really seen as a leader. Other provinces, even the federal government, are really consulting with Quebec," she said.

Health Minister Gaétan Barrette has some advice of his own to offer to other provinces taking on the issue: expect debate.

"There will never be unanimity on an issue like this. It's impossible," Barrette said.


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