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Extension in Carter ruling implementation means action needed now: Canadian Medical Association

Ottawa, Jan. 15, 2016 – The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) applauds today’s Supreme Court decision to grant a four-month extension in the implementation of the Carter ruling.

The CMA is acutely sensitive to the concerns of some patient groups that an extension could be seen to prolong the suffering of particular patients. The CMA therefore supported the need for an individual exemption process in its written submission to the Court as an intervener and contends that this extension will have a longer-term beneficial impact.

“This short extension of time will allow for a clearer understanding of the critical components of the legislative regime and framework for assisted dying,” said CMA President, Dr. Cindy Forbes.

Dr. Forbes added that the decision will also help physician organizations such as the CMA create communication materials, programming and supports necessary for the introduction of physician assisted dying as a medical service to ensure that physicians are properly educated and trained on this completely new type of intervention.

“The CMA also recognizes the urgent need to establish a national approach on this issue moving forward,” she added. “A central plank of the CMA’s position is the recommendation for federal leadership and an active response to the Supreme Court’s ruling as a critical element to the establishment of a pan-Canadian approach.”

The CMA is calling for legislative action at the federal level to provide clarity and consistency for physicians and their patients. As part of this approach, the CMA has applied to present to the joint parliamentary committee on physician-assisted dying to provide the physician and patient perspective on this issue as the committee prepares to make its legislative recommendations.

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.