Patients, not doctors, should initiate conversations on assisted dying: Qualtrough

OTTAWA — Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough says she’s open to amending a bill on assisted dying to prevent health practitioners from discussing medical assistance in dying with a patient who hasn’t asked for it.

Qualtrough has told a Senate committee studying the bill that she has “grave concerns” about the case of Roger Foley, a 45-year-old with a neurodegenerative disease, who alleges that he was pressured by hospital staff to seek an assisted death when he asked for home care.

She hears regularly from people who are appalled to discover that a family member with a disability has been offered an assisted death without asking for it.

She says it’s a practice that has to stop.

Qualtrough was pressed to explain why Bill C-7, which would expand the assisted-dying regime, doesn’t include a provision specifying that any discussion about assisted dying must be initiated by the patient.

She says she’s open to considering such an amendment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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