Quebec funeral home hosts euthanasia patients, families before death, burial

"There are a lot of emotions," Baker said.

Katie Daviscourt Seattle WA
A Quebec funeral home is offering families a space to bring their loved ones that wish to die by medically assisted suicide, raising concerns about funeral homes profiting off their deaths.

Mathieu Baker, the owner of the family-operated funeral home that has several locations in southern Quebec, said that providing this service to families was a "no-brainer" but comes with an unexpected heightened emotional cost that employees aren't used to dealing with, CBC reports.

"There are a lot of emotions," Baker said. "The person who made the decision is usually very convinced, but the kids, the siblings or other family members aren't necessarily on the same page."

Baker explained that families are opting to rent a space at his funeral home because their loved ones that made the decision to die by medically assisted suicide, also known as MAiD, would rather do so in the comfort of his rental space than in a hospital or long-term care home, according to the outlet.

He said that the funeral home holds multiple meetings and conversations with the families both over the phone and in person to ensure the home can offer a smooth and personalized experience.

"It is a very personal act that should be respected and done properly," Baker said to CBC.

"Do you want to watch a movie? Do you want a glass of wine? Some people want to be in groups of four or five, and we've had groups of up to 30 people."

Baker said that offering this new service has come at an emotional cost that the staff wasn't prepared for.

"We're all crying with the family," he said.

Patrick Savoie, who recently took his father-in-law, Michel Brunelle, to die in the funeral home after he opted to take MAiD following an ardent struggle with emphysema, said they chose the funeral home because it offered a more "comfortable" option for the family to gather to say their goodbyes.

"Michel had been suffering from emphysema for a very, very long time," Savoie told CBC. "As time was passing by, his ability to move, his ability to function was getting harder and harder."

"A hospital room is a very fixed, limited size. You can't necessarily have everybody you want to have there," he said.

Savioe said Baker's funeral home offered a "very nice room" that "allowed us the time we needed to do what we had to do to say goodbye. Let him get comfortable."

Some lawmakers are looking into the ethical principles of funeral homes offering these services and whether or not they are profiting from their deaths.

A spokesperson for Quebec's minister responsible for seniors, Sarah Bgras, told the CBC in an email that the minister "is looking into the legality of offering assisted dying services in a funeral home."

"Several questions may arise, and we will take the time to validate," she told the CBC.

"The important thing is to put people's wishes first, while ensuring that the proposals are not part of a monetization of the practice."

Canadians are becoming increasingly comfortable with the Trudeau government’s euthanasia program known as Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), with some now suggesting it should be expanded to include the poor and homeless.

MAiD was responsible for the deaths of 10,000 Canadians in 2021, which amounts to three percent of the total number of people who died that year. 


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