A Saskatchewan family wants the provincial government to change the way coroners record medically assisted deaths.
“It almost seemed like an embarrasing thing that had to be told to us, that the death certificate would read ‘drug toxicity’ and ‘suicide,'” Joe Tataryn said about the aftermath of his mother Alice’s assisted death.
Alice was suffering from terminal lung cancer when she chose to have help ending her life in November.
Speaking Monday on Gormley, Tataryn said his mother’s cancer should have been listed as her official cause of death, rather than having it classified as a suicide.
“People who commit suicide want to die, that’s their desire. People who seek the use of medical assistance in dying are having death thrust upon them unwillingly and they’re choosing to avoid agony,” he said.
Tataryn and his family have been pressing the province ever since Alice died to change the guidelines so no one else who chooses to use the service is ever listed as a suicide again.
“Listing this as a suicide is absolutely incorrect. That’s not what took place,” he said.
An emailed statement sent to 650 CKOM by the provincial Ministry of Justice noted the laws and regulations governing Saskatchewan coroners haven’t been amended in over 15 years, well before assisted dying became legal in Canada
“Though we do not have a timeline for what specific changes will be made or when these changes may be made, government is sensitive to the concerns of the families in these cases and continues to work towards more appropriately classifying medical assistance in dying deaths,” a ministry spokesperson wrote.
Tataryn said he doesn’t understand why it’s taking so long to fix the issue.
“I don’t see why it would take very much time to make the changes, to have it done properly and to do what’s right,” he said.
The province says 21 people chose to have medically assisted deaths between June 2016 and March 2017.