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Professional Standard Regarding Medical Assistance in Dying for Nova Scotian Physicians

The suspension of the Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous Carter decision decriminalizing physician assisted death will end on June 6th.

Legislation regarding medical assistance in dying was tabled in the House of Commons on April 14th. Bill C-14 is still being scrutinized in the Senate and is not anticipated to be enacted into law by June 6th. In the absence of legislation, the Carter decision will then become the law of the land.

In preparation the College has developed a Professional Standard Regarding Medical Assistance in Dying. Eligible patients according to this standard will be able to access this service through the Nova Scotia Health Authority.

On February 6th, 2015 the Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous Carter decision ruled that certain patients have a right to seek medical help to end their lives. The court suspended its declaration for a year in order to allow federal and provincial governments time to draft any new legislative provisions. At the request of the federal government, in January 2016 the court extended the suspension for four more months until June 6th.

In developing the Professional Standard Regarding Medical Assistance in Dying, the College led a working group comprised of stakeholders from government and the health and legal professions. The College’s working group will reconvene in order to align its professional standard when federal legislation comes into effect.

Physicians are asked to contact the College if they require any clarification regarding this standard.