CHPCA – Policy Alert re Assisted Suicide – a letter from ED Sharon Baxter

CHPCA – Policy Alert re Assisted Suicide – a letter from ED Sharon Baxter

Life & Death Matters Post

All members of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association received a letter this week from Sharon Baxter, the Executive Director for CHPCA regarding the issues of Assisted Suicide and Dying with Dignity.

The letter reads:

CHPCA has a Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide Task Group that is actively monitoring this issue.  Lately, there has been much debate over physician assisted suicide or euthanasia. In June 2012, the B.C. Supreme Court stated that suicide is not illegal. But, people living with physical disabilities who are unable to commit suicide without assistance are denied this option. This dichotomy was deemed unconstitutional by Justice Lynn Smith, who ruled in favour of the right to assisted suicide. Justice Smith granted Gloria Taylor a year long exception to the existing ban, enabling her to make her own decisions about her life and death. The judge also suspended the ruling for a year, allowing time to change current legislation. There is still the potential for an appeal of Gloria Taylor’s case. Moreover, a change in these laws must be approved by parliament. An appeal is expected in this case that may go right to the Supreme Court of Canada so no changes should be seen quickly.

In March 2012, the Special Commission on Dying with Dignity (Commission spéciale sur la question de mourir dans la dignité) released the report, Dying with Dignity. The Committee made 24 recommendations to the Minister of Health and Social Services as to how end-of-life care should be improved in Quebec. The Commission report was a strong first step towards implementing standardized hospice palliative care in Quebec so that all patients may have the highest quality of life and quality of dying, however, there were also several recommendations around the legalization of physician assisted suicide in Quebec.

To read the full letter:

Thanks Sharon for this letter.

Great work ahead for CHPCA!

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Courtney Murrell is a PSW who works in hospice palliative care.

When she is not at work, she is spending time with her family, going on hikes or writing. Courtney is a lifelong learner and loves to share her passion for writing as a wellness practice.

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