Canadian Medical Association supports extension in implementing Carter ruling

OTTAWA, Dec. 22, 2015 /CNW/ -The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has applied to make oral submissions to the Supreme Court of Canada in support of the federal government's motion to extend the time for the suspension of the declaration of constitutional invalidity with respect to ss14 and 241(b) of the Criminal Code – the Carter decision concerning assisted dying in Canada.

The CMA is acutely sensitive to the concerns of some patient groups that an extension could be seen to prolong the suffering of particular patients. However, in applying to present as a "friend of the court", the CMA contends that this extension is necessary and will have a longer-term beneficial impact on patient access. This additional time will allow for more understanding of the scope and implications of the critical components of the legislative regime and framework for assisted dying.

The Carter decision raises a host of complex issues that have implications for both practice and policy. Since the Court's ruling last February, the CMA has developed a framework with principles-based recommendations to guide the implementation of assisted dying in Canada. This framework has been an iterative document developed through extensive consultation with CMA members, provincial and territorial medical associations, and medical and health stakeholders.

The CMA also notes that the National Assembly of Québec instituted an 18-month period for the coming into force of Bill 52, highlighting the critical need for adequate preparation in such a complex situation. Given this reality, the CMA further contends that the extension proposed would exclude the province of Quebec.

A short extension of time will help physician organizations such as the CMA create communication materials, programming and supports necessary for the introduction of physician assisted dying as a medical service. The complexity of this type of initiative is considerable, and it is critical that physicians be properly educated and trained on a completely new type of intervention for all medical practitioners in Canada.

-- Dr. Jeff Blackmer, Vice-President, Medical Professionalism, Canadian Medical Association

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is the national voice of Canadian physicians. Founded in 1867, the CMA is a voluntary professional organization representing more than 80,000 of Canada's physicians and comprising 12 provincial and territorial medical associations and 60 national medical organizations. CMA's mission is helping physicians care for patients. The CMA will be the leader in engaging and serving physicians and be the national voice for the highest standards for health and health care.


SOURCE Canadian Medical Association

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