Mr. Clark: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A recent Supreme Court ruling means that medical assistance in dying, often called assisted suicide, will be legal in Alberta this June. I agree with the ruling.
Legally competent Albertans who suffer from grievous, irremediable illnesses should be able to choose when and how they die. Medical aid in dying should be legal, but it should also be rare.
Maintaining quality of life to the end of life is the goal of palliative care, a service provided by a dedicated few in our province and one that we should look to expand. Palliative care is about ensuring that patients and their families feel valued and cared for not only in their last days but in the weeks, months, and even years leading up to death.
Death is a part of life, something we will all experience, and when we do, we want to be treated with dignity and we want to be as comfortable as possible. We all want to maintain control of our medical care even when we cannot speak for ourselves. It’s important to know that even where medical assistance in dying is available, choice in dying means allowing natural death to occur in comfort and on our own terms.
Communicating your choice is critical. It means telling your family and caregivers what quality of life means to you. I encourage all Albertans, starting with each and every member of this House, to have these conversations while you’re still fit and healthy. This will help your family and your care providers know what your goals are when the time comes, whether that’s aggressive medical intervention to prolong life or comfort care that allows natural death to occur.
These conversations can be challenging, so Alberta Health Services has developed a tool kit to help. By visiting conversationsmatter.ca, you can learn about advanced care planning, which helps you think about, talk about, and document wishes for health care in the event that you become incapable of communicating your wishes. You may never need your advanced care plan, but if you do, you’ll be glad it’s there and you’ll be glad that you’ve had these conversations to make sure that your voice is heard.
Death is a natural part of life, and part of living a good life is having a good death. Palliative care and advanced care planning can ensure that you and your loved ones’ choices are respected. Advanced care planning truly is a gift to your family.