Quebec fights injunction on Dying with Dignity law
The Quebec government will appeal the injunction against its Dying with Dignity law after a superior court judge ordered the province to put the law on hold.
The Quebec government says its Dying with Dignity law has nothing to do with the Criminal Code, and so its implementation should not be delayed.
Portions of the law dealing with doctor-assisted death have been stopped by the injunction issued on Tuesday.
The judge said because of the Supreme Court ruling in Carter v. Canada, measures allowing physicians in Quebec to end the life of a patient with a terminal illness or chronic illness should be delayed until February 2016.
In a message for Quebecers Wednesday, federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said Ottawa wants to continue to cooperate with province, adding that she recognizes the leadership Quebec has shown on this issue.
She said the federal government can learn from how the province has dealt with this, but Quebec can't go ahead with its law before the federal government amends the Canadian Criminal Code.
The federal justice minister says she hopes people don't see this as a conflict between Ottawa and Quebec.
"It's not anything confrontational, it's just ensuring we proceed in the most appropriate way," she said.
Premier Philippe Couillard said his government, and MLAs in Quebec, do not see this as a criminal measure.
"We still maintain that it has nothing to do with the Criminal Code, nothing to do with euthanasia. It's a care, it's way of alleviating people's suffering at the end of their life and it's done with a lot of safeguards, as you know," said Couillard.
"It as seen as an example by the federal government and our colleagues in other provinces on the way to go forward on that very, very delicate subject."
The Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice filed for the injunction on the grounds it was giving too much power to doctors, and was a cop-out for adequate medical care.
Dr. Paul Saba said his organization has always urged Quebec to improve palliative care to ease a person's pain at the end of their life.
"They're really saying we'll inject you, or you have no other choice because in 80 percent of the areas in Quebec you have no access to palliative care," said Saba.
"I have lots of patients who come to my office and say doctor, I want to die."
Saba said he has spoken to many patients who change their minds once they get adequate treatment for their pain.
"We can't get access to pain clinics, we have two- or three-year waiting times," said Saba.
He also argued that people may rush to end their lives on being told they have a terminal disease without realizing that doctors make mistakes.
"People are going to make decisions based on bad diagnoses," said Saba, saying he had one patient who wanted to end her life years ago, but has lived eight years after being treated for a deadly disease.
"We need to care and love people and not euthanize them," said Saba.
Advocates for medical aid in dying say the injunction is a setback.
“We’re really saddened for the people in Quebec who have already been waiting so many weeks and months and are suffering greatly. They're now back in limbo,” said Wanda Morris of Dying with Dignity Canada.