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$1 million to survey Quebecers on assisted dying

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The Minister responsible for Seniors and Minister for Health, Sonia Bélanger, mandates a research group to understand the motives of people who resort to medical assistance in dying. (Archive photo)

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  • Davide Gentile (View profile)Davide Gentile

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When the annual statistics on the use of medical assistance in dying (AMM) were published last October, the Minister for Health, Sonia Bélanger, did not hide her astonishment and her desire “to fully understand the reasons which ensure that in Quebec there are more requests, more MAs administered.”

It must be said that Quebec has become, in a few years, the place in the world where the use of medical assistance in dying is most frequent, up to representing 7% of deaths. This is more than double the proportion in Ontario.

However, according to information obtained by Radio-Canada, Minister Bélanger, also responsible for Seniors, selected a research project proposed by Professor Marie-Ève ​​Bouthillier, member of the Office of Clinical Ethics of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Montreal.

The research budget planned for this project within the framework of the Quebec Research Fund amounts to more than $920,000 over three years.

We have very high social acceptability and this is something that we must understand to continue to better serve Quebecers, Minister Bélanger declared in writing . I will follow the research findings closely.

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Ms. Bouthillier has already published a study on MAID in 2017, where she notably showed the real causes why some doctors were reluctant to offer this end-of-life procedure.

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Marie-Ève ​​Bouthillier, professor of clinical ethics at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Montreal (Archive photo)

Medical assistance in dying is no longer an exceptional medical procedure in Quebec.

According to data from the End of Life Care Commission, 5,211 people received it between April 2022 and March 2023, an increase of 42% (1,548 people) compared to the previous year.

According to the Commission, this trend is unlikely to fade away.

The number of MAs administered in March and June 2023 suggests that the phenomenon will continue to grow […] and that this number will reach nearly 6,000 MAs administered in 2023-2024, the President of the Commission wrote last fall, Dr. Michel Bureau.

Quebec wishes to extend MAID to advance requests for people suffering from a neurocognitive disorder from the fall major such as Alzheimer's disease.

Minister Sonia Bélanger recently asked the federal government to make an amendment to the Criminal Code only in Quebec in order to to protect healthcare professionals from possible prosecution.

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