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CMA releases important framework to guide a pan-Canadian approach to assisted dying

Vancouver, Jan. 21, 2016 — The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is today releasing important recommendations to guide in the development of a pan-Canadian approach to assisted dying.

“The clock is ticking on this issue and we need to ensure that we are prepared,” said Dr. Cindy Forbes, CMA President. “The CMA’s principles-based approach will help provinces and the federal government respond.”

The CMA document — entitled Principles-based Recommendations for a Canadian Approach to Assisted Dying— was developed based on extensive consultation with CMA members, the public, provincial and territorial medical associations and medical stakeholders.

Key issues addressed in the framework include:

  • patient eligibility for access to and assessment for assisted dying;
  • procedural safeguards to ensure eligibility criteria are met;
  • the roles and responsibilities of the attending and consulting physicians, and;
  • achieving an ethical balance between physician’s freedom of conscience and the effective and timely patient access to a medical service.

“In developing these recommendations, we were able to pull from years of extensive public and member consultations,” said Dr. Forbes. “This feedback represents the critical patient-physician perspective.”

The CMA recognizes the urgent need to establish a national approach on this issue moving forward in order to provide clarity and consistency for physicians and their patients; this will include continuing to press for improved access to palliative care services for all Canadians.

“Canada’s doctors stand ready — with our framework in hand — to work with governments to make sure that as a nation, we’re ready to respond.”

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 80,000 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.