Medical Assistance in Dying

Posted:  19th September 2016

Introduction

In February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada found parts of the Criminal Code of Canada to be unconstitutional in the Carter vs Canada case. The Supreme Court of Canada found that the criminalization of assisted suicide deprived some of “life, liberty, and security of the person.”  As a result, since February 2015, persons in Canada have had the right to apply to the courts for medical assistance in dying.  As of June 17, 2016, Bill C-14 has been in force. This Bill has removed the absolute prohibition on assisted suicide from the Criminal Code of Canada by providing the exemption for Medical Assistance in Dying. Persons wishing for medical assistance in dying and medical practitioners now have a framework with which to understand the requirements and basic procedures for administering Medical Assistance in Dying.

Requests for medical assistance in dying are being managed through physicians and nurses. In Manitoba, any person wishing to obtain further information should speak with her or his health care provider or contact the Provincial MAID Services Team at (204) 926-1380 or e-mail at maid@wrha.mb.ca.

Role of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists in Medical Assistance in Dying

Under the current legislative framework it is clear that Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists will not play a direct role in the administration of medical assistance in dying; however, it is foreseeable that registrants of the College may be asked to provide assessment or assistance in the following areas:

–    Overcoming a communication barrier
–    Providing assessment and treatment plan regarding swallowing function
–    Being part of an interdisciplinary team to develop policies for medical assistance in dying
–    Help in the assessment of competency of a patient to make health care decisions

the information or assistance of which may be used in making decisions regarding medical assistance in dying.

Obligations of Registrants

The College would like to confirm that there is no obligation for a registrant to participate in the administration of medical assistance in dying. Registrants that are asked by physicians or nurses to provide assistance or assessment for clients seeking medical assistance in dying are able to abstain from providing service on the basis of a conscientious objection. Registrants with a conscientious objection may consider referring matters to a non-objecting registrant.

Registrants are encouraged to familiarize themselves with requirements set out by an employer for a particular workplace setting.  As a matter of employment, there may be an obligation of a health care provider to report to a supervisor when a client requests information about medical assistance in dying.

Registrants willing to provide assistance in medical assistance in dying cases are reminded that there is a professional obligation to provide services only in areas of which the practitioner is competent.

The College will continue to work with other provincial regulators and the government. The College will continue to update registrants as to developments in the medical assistance in dying scheme as well as the College’s expectations of registrants. The College is working to develop materials on medical assistance in dying to provide registrants with direction, further clarification and address the impacts on registrants.

Resources

•  Medical Assistance in Dying (Bill C-14)

•  Government of Canada: Medical Assistance in Dying

•  MBPHEN: Responding to Patient Questions about Assisted Death

•    The Provincial MAID Services Team out of the WRHA, in collaboration with Manitoba Health, has been supporting staff and patients with medical assistance in dying in Manitoba. For further questions, they can be contacted at 204-926-1380 or maid@wrha.mb.ca.

More Information

Caroline Wilson
Director Professional Practice
College of Audiologists and Speech – Language Pathologists of Manitoba

E:     CarolineWilson@caslpm.ca
T:     204 453 4539.  Ext: 3