CPSO Interim Guidance on Physician-Assisted Death (Consultation Closed)

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    The deadline to provide feedback is January 13, 2016

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    The Supreme Court of Canada’s (SCC) decision, Carter v. Canada, lifts the blanket prohibition on physician-assisted death. The decision legalized physician-assisted death in circumstances where a competent adult is suffering intolerably from a grievous and irremediable medical condition, and clearly consents to the termination of life. This decision takes effect on February 6, 2016 unless the federal government is granted an extension.

    Although the SCC struck down the blanket prohibition on physician-assisted death, it does not have the authority to design an enabling regulatory framework for this new permissive regime. The SCC suspended its decision for 12 months to allow the federal and/or provincial governments to design, if they so choose, a framework to govern the provision of physician-assisted death.

    In the event that there is no governing framework in place by February 2016, the College has developed the draft CPSO Interim Guidance on Physician-Assisted Death document. This draft document does not serve as a substitute for a comprehensive regime to govern the provision of physician-assisted death in Ontario. Rather, it provides interim guidance for the profession in the absence of such a framework.

    The draft CPSO Interim Guidance on Physician-Assisted Death document includes:

        • The professional and legal obligations articulated in existing College policies and legislation that apply in the physician-assisted death context;
        • The criteria for physician-assisted death as set out by the SCC; and
        • Guidance for physicians on practice-related elements specific to the provision of physician-assisted death.

    In order to ensure that this draft interim guidance document is finalized in advance of February 6, 2016, we are conducting a shortened consultation. Should the federal government be granted an extension, this timeline would be adjusted accordingly.

    View the draft CPSO Interim Guidance on Physician-Assisted Death document

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    Join The Conversation: Share Your Thoughts With Us

    We are inviting feedback on this draft interim guidance document from all interested stakeholders, including the public, members of the medical profession, organizations, and other health professionals. Comments received during this consultation will assist the College in developing the final interim guidance document, which will be considered for final approval by our Council.

    Please provide your feedback by January 13, 2016.

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    Background

    For background information on the SCC’s decision, Carter v. Canada, and the College’s response to this decision, please see the following Council briefing notes:

    Have Your Say

    We would like to hear your thoughts on the draft CPSO Interim Guidance on Physician-Assisted Death document, along with your suggestions on how we can improve the document.

    In particular, we are interested to know:

        • Does the draft interim guidance document provide useful guidance?
        • Are there issues not addressed that should be addressed even in the interim? If so, what are they?
        • Are there other ways in which the draft interim guidance document should be improved?

    Next Steps

    The College is committed to ensuring that the CPSO Interim Guidance on Physician-Assisted Death document is helpful, embodies the values and duties of medical professionalism, and is consistent with the College’s mandate to protect the public. The feedback obtained during this consultation will be carefully reviewed and used to evaluate the draft interim guidance document. While it may not be possible to ensure that every comment or suggested edit will be incorporated into the final version, all comments will be carefully considered.

    Final decisions about this document will be made by the College Council. Once a final version has been approved, a copy will be posted on this page as well as the College’s website.

    To ensure transparency, the College will post all consultation feedback in accordance with our posting guidelines.

    We value your feedback and thank you again for participating in our policy review process.

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    View feedback

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    Send us your feedback by mail:

    College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario
    80 College Street
    Toronto, Ontario
    M5G2E2

    Attention: Policy Department