N.S. pharmacists, physicians raise concerns over doctor-assisted dying legislation
Published Monday, June 6, 2016 7:51PM ADT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 7, 2016 7:19AM ADT
The deadline has passed, but the federal government's assisted dying bill has not. Bill C-14 is still before the Senate despite a Supreme Court ruling that says medically-assisted dying is legal in Canada.
Provincial colleges of physicians and surgeons are providing guidance for doctors.
“On the College's website right now there's a standard, a professional standard, that provides a roadmap for patients and for physicians about the delivery of medical aid in dying,” said Dr. Gus Grant of the Nova Scotia College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Dr. Grant says Bill C-14 is vague and should be amended – not rushed through.
But Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott says without a law, Canada is left with a patchwork of different regulations.
“We feel confident that the legislation provides those appropriate safeguards,” said Philpott. “While the regulations are well done, they're insufficient.”
Jocelyn Downie, professor of law and medicine at Dalhousie University, says there's no real need for Bill C-14 because the Supreme Court decision legalizes it.
“There's no necessity for the federal government to legislate here,” said Downie. “People sort of talk about this deadline, they had to get this done by this date. They actually don't ever have to get it done.”
Downie says the law as it's written is fundamentally flawed because it narrows the definition of who's eligible.
“Fewer people have access to medical assistance in dying under C-14 than have access in the Carter decision,” she said.
Concerns have been raised that the Carter decision only protects physicians involved in providing assisted death, and leaves other healthcare workers like nurses, pharmacists and social workers exposed.
Regulatory bodies for Nova Scotia doctors, nurses and pharmacists are asking the public prosecution and chiefs of police for assurance that charges will not be laid.
“There have been court decisions subsequent to Carter that have ruled that in order to give effect to Carter, it does require the involvement of other members of the healthcare team,” said Bev Zwicker of the Nova Scotia College of Physicians and Surgeons.
The college is urging its members to carefully consider their options until Bill C-14 is passed.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Sarah Ritchie.