Physician-Assisted Death – An Update

After the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), the Special Joint Committee of Physician-Assisted Dying was appointed to make recommendations on the framework of a federal response on physician-assisted dying.  Its report was recently published, and the recommendations are found at pages 35 to 38 of the report.

Relatedly, the British Columbia Supreme Court released a notice regarding applications for exemption from the Criminal Code prohibition against physician-assisted dying.  As it stands, there is a suspension of the Supreme Court of Canada’s declaration that the Criminal Code provisions “are of no force or effect to the extent that they prohibit physician‑assisted death for a competent adult person who (1) clearly consents to the termination of life and (2) has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition”.  The purpose of the suspension is to allow Parliament to craft the appropriate legislation in response to Carter.

Persons may apply for an exemption to the Criminal Code provisions by following the procedures outlined at: http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/supreme_court/documents/Notice_Regarding_Exemption_Applications-Physician_Assisted_Death.pdf.

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