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Draft Standard of Practice: Physician-Assisted Death

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia is seeking input from physicians on a Standard of Practice for Physician-Assisted Death in the province.

“While the debate over the right to physician-assisted death has been addressed by the Court, strong feelings on both sides of the issue still remain. The present challenge is to provide guidance to physicians who wish to help appropriate patients,” says Dr. Gus Grant, Registrar and CEO of the College.

On February 6th, 2015, the Supreme of Court of Canada’s (SCC) decision, Carter v. Canada, struck down the ban on physician-assisted death. The unanimous ruling provided eligible patients the right to receive assistance in dying from a willing physician. The court gave Parliament and the provincial legislatures a year to build a framework to govern the provision of physician-assisted death. The court is presently deliberating on an application to extend that deadline.

In the absence of any federal or provincial legislation, the College put together a working group to build a framework for physicians and patients to follow that was entirely consistent with the Court’s decision. The working group included representation from the Department of Health and Wellness, the Department of Justice, DoctorsNS, the Nova Scotia Health Authority and Dalhousie’s Health Law Institute. Preliminary drafts of the document were shared with various stakeholders for their input.

“This draft Standard is very much a living document and will continue to be informed by any provincial or federal legislation,” says Dr. Grant. “In the meantime, it is important that both physicians and their patients are clear on the College’s regulatory expectations.”

On behalf of the working group, the College is seeking physician feedback on the draft Standard of Practice: Physician-Assisted Death document by way of an online survey. The College also aims to provide information sessions for both physicians and public to review the standard.


Ryan Demings
Communications Officer
College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia
Phone: 902-482-2919 or E-mail: