Physician-assisted suicide and conscience protections for doctors in Ontario

As of June 17, 2016, it is now legal for patients to request physician-assisted suicide in Canada. Almost every other province has created a process to provide MAID without compromising healthcare provider’s consciences. Ontario’s newly introduced legislation, Bill 84, does not include any conscience protections.

Last year, the Ontario government introduced Bill 84 (Medical Assistance in Dying Statute Law Amendment Act) to outline the process for physician-assisted suicide in Ontario. This legislation does not currently contain any conscience protections for doctors or healthcare providers in Ontario.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) passed a policy called Professional Obligations and Human Rights that requires physicians to refer for procedures even if these procedures go against their conscience. Doctors with conscience objections consider referral, even to a third party, to be a type of participation.

No other foreign jurisdiction that has legalized assisted suicide requires doctors to perform or refer for this procedure. Other provinces have already implemented guidelines to protect doctors who object to providing or referring for assisted suicide.

Currently, doctors who object to performing or arranging referrals for physician-assisted suicide, due to their conscience and moral convictions, are subject to professional discipline.

For more on this or how to support conscience rights for physicians, visit; http://www.canadiansforconscience.ca/ontario