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CMA takes recommendations for assisted dying legislation to Parliament Hill

OTTAWA, Jan. 27, 2016 – Fresh from presenting the association’s approach to assisted dying to health ministers last week in Vancouver, CMA President Cindy Forbes today appears before a Parliamentary committee studying the issue in Ottawa.

Dr. Forbes, accompanied by Dr. Jeff Blackmer, Vice-president of Medical Professionalism at the CMA, will describe the association’s consultations on end-of-life care and provided an overview of the Principles-based Recommendations for a Canadian Approach to Assisted Dying.

Dr. Forbes is also flagging two critical issues for consideration of the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying.

The CMA’s first concern is that any legislative and regulatory framework must achieve an appropriate balance between physician rights of conscience and patient rights to access to assisted dying.

Physician opinions are divided on the issue of assisted dying and the Supreme Court of Canada’s Carter decision has opened the way for a very significant change for physicians. The CMA supports physicians who will choose to provide or participate in assistance in dying and those who will choose not to provide or participate in it.

The framework proposed by the CMA accounts for these different points of views and differences of conscience by strongly recommending there be resources in place to facilitate patient access. This will ensure effective patient access while allowing all physicians to follow their conscience.

The second critical issue underscored by Dr. Forbes is the need for legislators to develop a consistent, pan-Canadian framework in the new law.

“It is critical that we provide clarity for physicians and their patients and develop a consistent approach across all jurisdictions,” says Dr. Forbes. “The CMA is keenly aware of the risk if we don’t — that a patchwork of differing and potentially conflicting approaches may easily emerge. And that would not serve anyone well.”

Click here to watch Dr. Forbes explain the importance of the CMA’s framework on assisted dying.


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.


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