Expert advisory group completes report on physician-assisted dying

Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. Photo: Facebook
Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. Photo: Facebook

An expert advisory group on physician-assisted dying, established by Ontario in collaboration with 10 other provinces and territories, has completed its final report.

The expert advisory group spent three months consulting with key organizations, experts and community leaders from across Canada.  Their final report covers issues including eligibility criteria, protection of vulnerable people and the role of conscientiously objecting health care providers. The report is intended to assist provinces and territories as they prepare for the implementation of physician-assisted dying.

“We thank the expert advisory group for their thoughtful recommendations. We will take these recommendations under advisement as we move forward with an approach to physician-assisted dying that is right for Ontario. As we carefully look at the complex and sensitive issues related to end-of-life care and physician-assisted dying that are outlined in this report, we will continue listening to Ontarians. It is paramount that future policies ensure that patients and their families are treated with the utmost compassion and dignity. We invite all Ontarians to participate in this important conversation either by attending a consultation in their community or by providing feedback through our online survey”, said Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

In February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the federal law prohibiting physician-assisted dying. The court gave federal and provincial governments 12 months to respond to the ruling. As provinces and territories have the primary responsibility to provide health care, Ontario will need to consider whether regulatory or other changes are required when the decision on physician-assisted dying takes effect.

To help inform the approach, Ontario is also inviting people to share their views on physician-assisted dying and end-of-life care through in-person public consultations to be held in nine communities in January 2016, as well as through an online survey. Ontarians can provide their input on key issues, including safeguards to protect vulnerable people, the impact on families and caregivers, and the role of health care providers in providing physician-assisted dying.

Currently, the Supreme Court’s decision comes into effect on February 6, 2016.

A federal external panel is scheduled to provide a report to the federal government on December 15 on the findings and results of its own consultations.

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