Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Quebec to table bill legalizing medically supervised euthanasia

Véronique Hivon is Quebec’s junior minister of social services.

Jacques Boissinot/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Medically supervised euthanasia may soon become accessible in Quebec, which would make the province the first in Canada to legislate on the highly controversial issue.

A bill to be tabled on Wednesday is expected to legislate the right to request "medical aid to die" in response to a report that argued that, since medical assistance is used to prolong life, dying patients should also be able to ask for it under strict conditions to end life.

The proposal was the centrepiece of a report entitled Dying with Dignity that was tabled in March, 2012. It was prepared by a non-partisan select committee that consulted widely on the issue.

Story continues below advertisement

The opposition Liberal Party has indicated support in principle for the idea, but a party official said that, given the sensitive nature of the debate that will likely ensue, the caucus will examine the contents of the bill carefully before adopting a final position.

The co-chair of the committee, Véronique Hivon, who was an opposition Parti Québécois MNA when the report was tabled, argued that the request to die must come from the patient only and be supported by the medical opinion of at least two doctors.

Ms. Hivon, who is junior minister of social services, drafted the legislation. It is expected to embrace the select committee's proposal that the law stop forcing patients to endure long painful deaths.

The committee insisted that it was not proposing a form of assisted suicide, but rather an end-of-life protocol that would define in legal terms the practices physicians currently use for terminally ill patients and give people who are terminally ill the right to request them, which they do not have now.

While euthanasia is illegal under the federal Criminal Code, the wording of the legislation is expected to ensure that it stays within legal boundaries.

The select committee's report recommended that only those with full mental capacity who have a serious and incurable disease with no hope of improvement should be allowed to make the request.

The committee also proposed that the process be rigorously monitored. For instance, a person requesting medical assistance to die would need to submit a signed form that would be reviewed periodically with the assistance of the patient's doctor, who must also sign the form and obtain a second opinion from an independent physician.

Story continues below advertisement

The committee argued that such a practice would be much more humane than sedating patients into unconsciousness until they die.

A poll taken by the committee last year showed that 74 per cent of the 6,600 people in Quebec surveyed supported some form of medically assisted euthanasia.

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Quebec City political correspondent

Rhéal Séguin is a journalist and political scientist. Born and educated in southern Ontario, he completed his undergraduate degree in political science at York University and a master's degree in political science at the Université du Québec à Montréal.Rhéal has practised journalism since 1978, first with Radio-Canada in radio and television and then with CBC Radio. More


The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at