Health minister mulls expanding access to medically assisted dying
Public consultations into medically assisted dying are set to begin next week, but some worry about the Quebec health minister's plan to expand access to who can apply.
Health Minister Danielle McCann has asked the College of Physicians to look into how people with severe mental illness could qualify.
"We don't want to discriminate, they will become eligible," she said.
That's raised some concerns, including by PQ MNA Veronique Hivon, who started the legislative process for medical aid in dying years ago when her party was in office.
"For physical illnesses that are concerned, you know that in itself the illness will lead to death, but it's a question of time," she said. "It's not the same with mental illnesses."
Some in the medical community agree.
"Concerns are clustered around assessment of decision-making capacity, making sure the underlying illness is not biasing the expression and decisions of those patients," said Dr. Eric Racine, director of the Pragmatic Health Ethic Research Unit of the Montreal Clinic Research Institute.
Because it's such a delicate subject, many were upset to see the government originally put aside only one day of hearings on medically assisted dying.
McCann now says there will be more hearings.
"It's going to be a process of consultations," she said, adding that there will be no hasty decisions made to determine if someone qualifies.
"We know that in other countries where it's done, it can take up to two years," she said.
The Parti Quebecois believes the parameters should be set by the National Assembly and not the College of Physicians.
Hearings begin Monday.