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Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann intends to launch a broad public consultation to guide the government’s decision on the issue of medical assistance in dying.Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

A panel of experts is recommending the Quebec government expand access to medical aid in dying.

In recommendations made public today, the group said people should be allowed to make advance directives requesting a doctor-assisted death, which is not allowed under current law.

The panel suggests that to make such an advance request, a person should first have been diagnosed with a serious, incurable illness, including Alzheimer’s or dementia.

The person would designate a third party to authorize the assisted death when the time comes.

Health Minister Danielle McCann says she will launch a broad public consultation to guide the government’s decision on the issue.

She told a news conference the consultation would occur during the Coalition Avenir Québec government’s current mandate, but she would not commit to amending the law before the next election.

Speaking to reporters later, Premier François Legault said the subject is “delicate,” but the public wants to see restrictions on assisted dying reduced. “We are in favour of the expansion of medical aid in dying,” he said.

But it must be done carefully, he added: “Of course, we have to be sure there is consent. Of course, we have to make sure it is not by default because they do not have all the services they should have at the end of life.”

The 150-page report was written by 13 experts mandated by the previous government to examine the possibility of expanding access to medical aid in dying to patients who are not necessarily at the end of life.

The expert group also recommends that the government offer a better quality of palliative care throughout Quebec.

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