After confirming that its new law on medical assistance in dying (MAID) could take two years to come into force, the Quebec government now says it is ready to move forward in the fall and approve the Criminal Code from Ottawa. Urges to modify. For the province only.
The minister responsible for the file, Sonia Bélanger, confirms that the two-year deadline was never an objective and that people are getting impatient. “And behind these people are human tragedies. (…) As we speak, some people are desperately waiting for this process to begin,” he said Wednesday at a press conference with the Justice Minister, Simon Jolin-Barrett, and the Minister of Canadian Relations, Jean-François Roberge.
The CAQ government says Ottawa can create an exception for Quebec in the Criminal Code to allow advance requests for MAID.
“We see that sometimes there are exceptions. When we think about cannabis, lotteries, or young offenders, there are adjustments in federal laws that make it possible to respect the specificities of the provinces,” said Jean-François Robert.
“We think there is some openness from the federal government, but it is not enough. It takes concrete action,” said Simon Jolin-Barrett.
According to the Justice Minister, amendments to the Criminal Code are necessary to prevent health professionals who manage MAID as part of an advance request from committing criminal offenses.
“Currently, in the Criminal Code, the person must be able to give consent when receiving medical assistance in dying. So that’s what we need to change,” he explained.
“What we are asking is that the federal government show flexibility and recognize that this is not a criminal offense on Quebec territory because we have a strict framework,” Mr. Jolin-Barrette said.
A federal bill on MAID was introduced last week, and the CAQ government says Ottawa could add an amendment to allow advance requests on the territory of Quebec.
Quebec did not want to say what it would do if its request remained a dead letter. “If that doesn’t happen, we will hold another press conference and tell you the strategy,” Minister Belanger said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was questioned on the topic by Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet during a question period in Ottawa on Wednesday. Mr. Trudeau replied, “I openly welcome Quebec’s debate on this, and we will continue to consider it.”
The new version of the Quebec law on MAID was adopted last June, and it will allow advance requests for people suffering from a serious and terminal illness such as Alzheimer’s, for example.