09/02/2015 17:44 EDT | Updated 09/02/2016 01:12 EDT

Quebec health minister insists dying patients must get help to ease suffering

Quebec's health minister says patients seeking medical help in dying must obtain the service.

Gaetan Barrette made the comments today in order to scold uncooperative doctors and directors of institutions in the province's health care network.

Quebec's right-to-die law comes into effect on Dec. 10 and Barrette says the patient will be the priority.

Only certain terminally ill people will receive the legal right to seek medical aid in dying and the strict law states those patients must be at death's door and suffering.

The health minister has declared that hospitals with palliative care units as well as palliative care homes must conform with the law and offer medical assistance to dying patients who ask for it.

Barrette says that on an individual basis, a doctor could invoke an objection of conscience and refuse to shorten the life of a sick person.

But he insists that the institution must respond to the request and find another doctor willing to offer the service.

Barrette says several polls taken in recent years indicated the vast majority of doctors polled agreed with the law.


The Canadian Press