September 2020 Newsletter of the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia

MUHC palliative care pioneer, Dr. Balfour Mount, gets his own commemorative stamp from Canada Post

Dear members and supporters,

After a longer-than-expected hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, we now resume our Newsletter.   We’re sure the past few months have been particularly strenuous for many of you, with new and increasing demands on your time and skills.

The pandemic has also brought clearly to light several serious concerns regarding the care of the most vulnerable members of our society.

  • The lamentable state of nursing home care pre-pandemic, that led to the vast majority of COVID infections and deaths being among the frailest elderly;
  • The effects of no-visitor policies on elderly and terminally ill people, leading to physical and cognitive decline and to many dying alone.

Articles about nursing homes and no-visitor policies:

We also saw the elaboration of several protocols in different jurisdictions for allocation of medical resources such as ventilators and ICU care in the event of a scarcity due to dramatic increases in infection rates. It is, of course, wise and necessary to take such precautions, to avoid having to improvise, which would no doubt lead to many unfair decisions. However, some papers and protocols propose age, disability and long-term perceived quality of life as reasons for lower priority for access, such as the Emanuel paper in the New England Journal of Medicine and the Canadian Medical Association guidelines on triage protocols.

Some useful reflections on this issue include:

The disability community has also expressed grave concerns regarding these protocols

Continue reading below for more news.
Make euthanasia unimaginable.


Catherine Ferrier


Prorogation of the House of Commons until September 23: By proroguing Parliament, the government has brought to an end the business of Parliament; government bills still on the table have died on the order paper. Among these is, Bill C-7 , which as you know removes the end-of-life requirement and removes several other safeguards that were intended to to protect people from euthanasia.  There is no doubt that a new version of Bill C-7 will be reintroduced without delay now that Parliament has resumed.  

First Annual Report on Medical Assistance in Dying in Canada, 2019: This report contains information collected from practitioners and pharmacists for the 2019 calendar year on written requests for and cases of MAID across Canada. Although the report is stated to ‘provide the most comprehensive portrait of MAID in Canada to date’, the validity of the perspective remains questionable.

McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) palliative care pioneer, Dr. Balfour Mount, gets his own commemorative stamp from Canada Post. Dr. Mount advocated for a whole-person approach to health care that addresses not only pain and symptom management but also the psychological, social and spiritual suffering of people with a terminal illness and their families.


McGuinty and Lau: Assisted dying study suggests we should put much more focus on palliative care.

Made to Live by Dr. Paul Saba: In his book, Made to Live, Dr. Paul Saba, a member of the Physicians’ Alliance depicts a physician’s journey to save lives. He begins his story with the battle to save the life of his baby girl, Jessica, who was born with a severe congenital cardiac malformation. He describes the challenges of facing difficult diagnoses through both his personal experiences and those of his patients. The book debunks the myths of euthanasia and assisted suicide. Click here for purchasing information.


La responsabilité de protéger les personnes âgées atteintes de démence (The responsibility to protect the elderly with dementia).

Manifesto written by Dr. Félix Pageau, geriatrician, and published this summer by Les Presses de l’Université Laval. This manifesto proposes a profound reflection on the fears (of losing one’s dignity, of suffering…) that can lead to a request for euthanasia in anticipation of future dementia. It will be a major tool in the political debate that awaits us on euthanasia by anticipatory request.


Following is information on two conferences that may be of interest:

  • Wonderfully Made: Technology for Patient Care
    The 12th Annual Conference of the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians & Societies will be hosted online October 17th-18th via Hopin. Click here for more information.
  • CPL Annual Conference. Oct 22nd – 25th. For more information and to register click here.


World Medical Journal (2020) The WMA and the Foundations of Medical Practice. Declaration of Geneva (1948), International Code of Medical Ethics (1949). Number 3, August 2020, 2-8 . Philippe D. Violette, Ewan C Goligher, Timothy Lau, Ramona Coelho, Sheila Rutledge Harding and Sean Murphy.


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