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Canadian Medical Association urges swift passage of Bill C-14

Ottawa, May 3, 2016 – The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) will appear before both the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs this week to urge Parliamentarians to quickly pass into law Bill C-14, Medical Assistance in Dying.

While supporting swift passage of Bill C-14, the CMA also provided input on the key issues of respecting the personal convictions of health care providers, the need to develop an end-of-life care coordination system, the need for a consistent, pan-Canadian framework and the need for clear safeguards to the provision of medical assistance in dying.

“The CMA strongly supports a robust federal role, including both a legislative and non-legislative response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Carter v. Canada,” said CMA President, Dr. Cindy Forbes. “The federal government has achieved an appropriate balance in its overall response to the Carter decision; therefore, the CMA supports the enactment of Bill C-14 with no amendments.”

The CMA has led physician and public dialogues on end-of-life care, including assisted dying, since 2014 when the CMA led a national consultation and a series of public and physician town halls across the country. This national dialogue focused on advance care planning, palliative care, and physician-assisted dying.

“This initial consultation provided valuable insights to inform the concurrent CMA’s in-depth and comprehensive consultation with its membership as well as medical and health stakeholders as an intervener before the Supreme Court and following the Carter decision,” said Dr. Forbes.

This broad consultative process also led to the development of the CMA’sPrinciples-based Recommendations for a Canadian Approach to Assisted Dying guided by a set of ten foundational principles. These recommendations provided the lens through which the CMA assessed Bill C-14.

Since Bill C-14 was tabled there has been significant public discussion on “Carter Plus” issues such as the eligibility of mature minors, eligibility with respect to those with mental health conditions and advance care directives. The CMA is stressing the need for caution and careful study of these complex issues.

“While these issues may have been enacted in other jurisdictions, they were not included at the introduction of frameworks governing medical assistance in dying in other countries,” said Dr. Forbes. “For that reason, the CMA supports the approach proposed by the federal government not to include these issues in Bill C-14 and to study them in greater detail prior to advancing legislative proposals.”

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 83,000 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.