The Québec Ombudsman supports Bill 52 - An Act respecting end-of-life care
Québec, September 24, 2013 – During this morning’s special consultations on the bill respecting end-of-life care, the Ombudsperson, Raymonde Saint-Germain, expressed her agreement with its principles and provisions, subject to certain recommendations. According to Ms. Saint-Germain: “The bill provides for essential precautions to ensure the implementation of medical aid in dying according to strict guidelines, while always respecting the wishes of the end-of-life patient.”
The Ombudsperson also considers that the development of the service offering in palliative care is intrinsically linked to the opening created for medical aid in dying for individuals faced with exceptional suffering and whose death is imminent: “This factor is of crucial importance. Every person must be able to benefit from quality care and a stable environment where respect for their privacy is assured when they reach this terminal stage of their lives.”
However, in several regions and in many institutions, access to end-of-life palliative care services is clearly deficient. This is why Ms. Saint-Germain recommends that the end-of-life palliative care policy be updated and that a ministerial action plan with the aim of improving the services offered in every region that requires it be developed in the short term. “The Québec Ombudsman’s support for medical aid in dying is conditional on access to quality end-of-life palliative care. This is an issue of the utmost importance to ensure the protection of all vulnerable individuals,” Raymonde Saint-Germain affirmed. She also recommends that the bill be amended to ensure that an individual end-of-life room (private room) is offered free of charge to every user whose death is imminent.
The other recommendations of the Québec Ombudsman’s brief particularly concern accountability by institutions and the Commission sur les soins de fin de vie, as well as clarification of the application of the complaint examination procedure.
“By providing explicit governance and guidelines, under Québec law, for the human response provided to end-of-life patients, Bill 52 has broken a taboo. The sphere of autonomy recognized for each individual must include this ultimate decision, in order to ensure their dignity at the end of their lives. I therefore salute the legislature’s courage,” the Ombudsperson concluded.
The Québec Ombudsman’s brief can be consulted at Reactions to bills and regulations.
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Carole-Anne Huot, Communications Consultant