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CMA to discuss end-of-life issues with members across country

The CMA, which in February launched a nationwide series of public forums on end-of-life (EOL) care, is also hosting five separate sessions to allow members to make their personal views known. The first session, held in St. John’s Feb. 21, attracted more than 30 physicians. As well, the CMA has also launched a website that will allow members to express opinions and participate in polls.

“At our annual meeting last August we heard formally from members of General Council because end-of-life care dominated the proceedings,” said CMA President Louis Hugo Francescutti. “Now we want to hear informally from members by meeting them in their communities across Canada.”

One key issue the CMA is seeking input on concerns its existing policy on physician participation in euthanasia and/or assisted suicide. Current CMA policy does not support either practice, and instead urges members to uphold the principles of palliative care.

Francescutti, who will attend several of these sessions, said the member forums will also give the CMA a clearer idea of the EOL issues members face at the community level. “I will be curious to hear about the use of advance directives and about how often their patients are raising these issues,” he said.

The four remaining member sessions will be held in:

  • Edmonton, March 15
  • Fredericton, March 28
  • Vancouver, April 2
  • Whitehorse, April 17
  • Regina, May 10

Dr. Jeff Blackmer, the CMA’s director of ethics, will attend most of the meetings. “This is a controversial topic and there are many ways to find out what members think about it,” he said. “We’ve already polled them, and we have listened to them debate EOL care during our annual meeting. Now we have a chance to hear from them where they live, where they work and where they actually deal with the issue as it arises.”

Members who would like to attend can contact Carole Deburggraeve for meeting times and locations.

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