CMA releases recommendations on doctor-assisted dying
Christina Commisso, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, January 21, 2016 2:51PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 21, 2016 5:41PM EST
The Canadian Medical Association released its recommendations on physician-assisted dying on Thursday, calling for the rollout of a national strategy.
The framework outlines how a patient would be eligible for assisted dying, the roles and responsibilities of the doctors involved and what kind of oversight would be in place to make sure patients are protected.
The recommendations follow two years of consultations with doctors, patients and politicians, CMA President Cindy Forbes told CTV News Channel on Thursday.
"The document itself is based on really important principles that need to be in place for any framework for assisted dying," she said, "Principles like dignity and respect, clarity and accountability."
The CMA framework stresses that there could be no "grey areas" in any assisted dying legislation.
Forbes said a national framework for assisted dying will prevent varying laws from province to province.
"We certainly don't want to see a patchwork of different laws and regulations throughout the country where a situation would exist that a patient would be eligible in one province but not another," she said.
The recommendations include the requirement for a patient to make at least two verbal requests for assisted dying to the attending physician before submitting a written request.
Also included in the recommendations is the need for a second, independent doctor to assess the patient for "capacity and voluntariness."
The CMA says hospitals that oppose assisted dying should not be able to stop their doctors from providing the service in other locations. It also recommends that doctors who choose not to participate in assisted dying should not be required to refer patients to a physician who is willing to do so.
Dying With Dignity Canada said Thursday that the recommendations do not go far enough in protecting patients' rights to a peaceful death.
The organization is particularly concerned with the recommendation that doctors who oppose assisted dying are not required to refer the patient to another provider.
"Horrifically ill Canadians, especially those in the last throes of terminal illness, must not be forced to strike out on their own to find a doctor who is willing to alleviate their suffering," the group's CEO Wanda Morris said in a statement. "Making patients fend for themselves is not a policy we can support."
The CMA's recommendations come less than a week after the Supreme Court agreed to give Ottawa a four-month extension on doctor-assisted dying legislation.