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Caring in a Crisis: The Ethical Obligations of Physicians and Society During a Pandemic

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy9109
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
2008-02-23
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
2008-02-23
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
Inherent in all health care professional Codes of Ethics is the duty to provide care to patients and to relieve suffering whenever possible. However, this duty does not exist in a vacuum, and depends on the provision of goods and services referred to as reciprocal obligations, which must be provided by governments, health care institutions and other relevant bodies and agencies. The obligation of government and society to physicians can be seen as comparable to the obligations of physicians to their patients. The recent experience of Canadian physicians during the SARS epidemic in Toronto has heightened the sensitivities of the medical profession to several issues that arose during the course of dealing with that illness. Many of the lessons learned (and the unanswered questions that arose) also apply to the looming threat of an avian flu (or other) pandemic. Canadian physicians may be in a relatively unique position to consider these issues given their experience and insight. The intent of this working paper is to highlight the ethical issues of greatest concern to practicing Canadian physicians which must be considered during a pandemic. In order to address these issues before they arise, the CMA presents this paper for consideration by individual physicians, physician organizations, governments, policy makers and interested bodies and stakeholders. Although many of the principles and concepts could readily be applied to other health care workers, the focus of this paper will be on physicians. Policies regarding physicians in training, including medical students and residents, should be clarified in advance by the relevant bodies involved in their oversight and training. Issues of concern would include the responsibilities of trainees to provide care during a pandemic and the potential effect of such an outbreak on their education and training. A. Physician obligations during a pandemic The professional obligations of physicians are well spelled out in the CMA Code of Ethics and other documents and publications and are not the main focus of this paper. However, they will be reviewed and discussed as follows. Several important principles of medical ethics will be of particular relevance in considering this issue. Physicians have an obligation to be beneficent to their patients and to consider what is in the patient's best interest. According to the first paragraph of the CMA Code of Ethics (2004), "Consider first the well-being of the patient". Traditionally, physicians have also respected the principle of altruism, whereby they set aside concern for their own health and well-being in order to serve their patients. While this has often manifested itself primarily as long hours away from home and family, and a benign neglect of personal health issues, at times more drastic sacrifices have been required. During previous pandemics, many physicians have served selflessly in the public interest, often at great risk to their own well-being. The principle of justice requires physicians to consider what is owed to whom and why, including what resources are needed, and how these resources would best be employed during a pandemic. These resources might include physician services but could also include access to vaccines and medications, as well as access to equipment such as ventilators or to a bed in the intensive care unit. According to paragraph 43 of the CMA Code of Ethics, physicians have an obligation to "Recognize the responsibility of physicians to promote equitable access to health care resources". In addition, physicians can reasonably be expected to participate in the process of planning for a pandemic or other medical disaster. According to paragraph 42 of the CMA Code of Ethics, physicians should "Recognize the profession's responsibility to society in matters relating to public health, health education, environmental protection, legislation affecting the health and well-being of the community and the need for testimony at judicial proceedings". This responsibility could reasonably be seen to apply both to individual physicians as well as the various bodies and organizations that represent them. Physicians also have an ethical obligation to recognize their limitations and the extent of the services they are able to provide. During a pandemic, physicians may be asked to assume roles or responsibilities with which they are not comfortable, nor prepared. Paragraph 15 of the CMA Code of Ethics reminds physicians to "Recognize your limitations and, when indicated, recommend or seek additional opinions or services". However, physicians have moral rights as well as obligations. The concept of personal autonomy allows physicians some discretion in determining where, how and when they will practice medicine. They also have an obligation to safeguard their own health. As stated in paragraph 10 of the CMA Code of Ethics, physicians should "Promote and maintain your own health and well-being". The SARS epidemic has served to reopen the ethical debate. Health care practitioners have been forced to reconsider their obligations during a pandemic, including whether they must provide care to all those in need regardless of the level of personal risk. As well, they have been re-examining the obligation of governments and others to provide reciprocal services to physicians, and the relationship between these obligations. B. Reciprocal obligations towards physicians While there has been much debate historically (and especially more recently) about the ethical obligations of physicians towards their patients and society in general, the consideration of reciprocal obligations towards physicians is a relatively recent phenomenon. During the SARS epidemic, a large number of Canadian physicians unselfishly volunteered to assist their colleagues in trying to bring the epidemic under control. They did so, in many cases, in spite of significant personal risk, and with very little information about the nature of the illness, particularly early in the course of the outbreak. Retrospective analysis has cast significant doubt and concern on the amount of support and assistance provided to physicians during the crisis. Communication and infrastructure support was poor at best. Equipment was often lacking and not always up to standard when it was available. Psychological support and counselling was not readily available at the point of care, nor was financial compensation for those who missed work due to illness or quarantine. Although the Ontario government did provide retrospective compensation for many physicians whose practices were affected by the outbreak, the issue was addressed late, and not at all in some cases. It is clear that Canadian physicians have learned greatly from this experience. The likelihood of individuals again volunteering "blindly" has been reduced to the point where it may never happen again. There are expectations that certain conditions and obligations will be met in order to optimize patient care and outcomes and to protect health care workers and their families. Because physicians and other health care providers will be expected to put themselves directly in harm's way, and to bear a disproportionate burden of the personal hardships associated with a pandemic, the argument has been made that society has a reciprocal obligation to support and compensate these individuals. According to the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics report We stand on guard for thee, "(The substantive value of) reciprocity requires that society support those who face a disproportionate burden in protecting the public good, and take steps to minimize burdens as much as possible. Measures to protect the public good are likely to impose a disproportionate burden on health care workers, patients and their families." Therefore, in order to provide adequate care for patients, the reciprocal obligation to physicians requires providing some or all of the following: Prior to a pandemic - Physicians and the organizations that represent them should be more involved in planning and decision making at the local, national and international levels. In turn, physicians and the organizations that represent them have an obligation to participate as well. - Physicians should be made aware of a clear plan for resource utilization, including: - how physicians will be relieved of duties after a certain time; - clearly defined roles and expectations, especially for those practicing outside of their area of expertise; - vaccination/treatment plans - will physicians (and their families) have preferential access based on the need to keep caregivers healthy and on the job; - triage plans, including how the triage model might be altered and plans to inform the public of such. - Physicians should have access to the best equipment needed and should be able to undergo extra training in its use if required. - Politicians and leaders should provide reassurances that satisfy physicians that they will not be "conscripted" by legislation. During a pandemic - Physicians should have access to up-to-date, real time information. - Physicians should be kept informed about developments in Canada and globally. - Communication channels should be opened with other countries (e.g. Canada should participate in WHO initiatives to identify the threats before they arrive on our doorstep). - Resources should be provided for backup and relief of physicians and health care workers. - Arrangements should be made for timely provision of necessary equipment in an ongoing fashion. - Physicians should be compensated for lost clinical earnings and to cover expenses such as lost wages, lost group earnings, overhead, medical care, medications, rehabilitative therapy and other relevant expenses in case of quarantine, clinic cancellations or illness (recognizing that determining exactly when or where an infection was acquired may be difficult). - Families should receive financial compensation in the case of a physician family member who dies as a result of providing care during a pandemic. - In the event that physicians may be called upon in a pandemic to practice outside of their area of expertise or outside their jurisdiction, they should to contact their professional liability protection provider for information on their eligibility for protection in these circumstances. - Interprovincial or national licensing programs should be developed to provide physicians with back-up and relief and ensure experts can move from place to place in a timely fashion without undue burden. - Psychological and emotional counselling and support should be provided in a timely fashion for physicians, their staff and family members. - Accommodation (i.e. a place to stay) should be provided for physicians who have to travel to another locale to provide care; or who don't want to go home and put their family at risk, when this is applicable, i.e. the epidemiology of the infectious disease causing the pandemic indicates substantially greater risk of acquiring infection in the health care setting than in the community. - Billing and compensation arrangements should ensure physicians are properly compensated for the services they are providing, including those who may not have an active billing number in the province where the services are being provided. After a pandemic - Physicians should receive assistance in restarting their practice (replacing staff, restocking overhead, communicating with patients, and any other costs related to restarting the practice). - Physicians should receive ongoing psychological support and counselling as required. C. How are physician obligations and reciprocal obligations related? Beyond a simple statement of the various obligations, it is clear that there must be some link between these different obligations. This is particularly important since there is now some time to plan for the next pandemic and to ensure that reciprocal obligations can be met prior to its onset. Physicians have always provided care in emergency situations without questioning what they are owed. According to paragraph 18 of the CMA Code of Ethics, physicians should "Provide whatever appropriate assistance you can to any person with an urgent need for medical care". However, in situations where obligations can be anticipated and met in advance, it is reasonable to expect that they will be addressed. Whereas a physician who encounters an emergency situation at the site of a car crash will act without concern for personal gain or motivation, a physician caring for the same patient in an emergency department will rightly expect the availability of proper equipment and personnel. In order to ensure proper patient care and physician safety, and to ensure physicians are able to meet their professional obligations and standards, the reciprocal obligations outlined above should be addressed by the appropriate body or organization. Conclusion If patient and physician well-being is not optimized by clarifying the obligations of physicians and society prior to the next pandemic, in spite of available time and resources necessary to do so, there are many who would call into question the ethical duty of physicians to provide care. However, the CMA believes that, in the very best and most honourable traditions of the medical profession, its members will provide care and compassion to those in need. We call on governments and society to assist us in optimizing this care for all Canadians.
Documents
Less detail

National advance care planning toolkit website

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11190
Last Reviewed
2018-03-03
Date
2014-03-01
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Resolution
BD14-05-162
The Canadian Medical Association recommends the use of a national advance care planning toolkit website with references to provincial and territorial resources to assist physicians in conversations about advanced care planning with their patients.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2018-03-03
Date
2014-03-01
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Resolution
BD14-05-162
The Canadian Medical Association recommends the use of a national advance care planning toolkit website with references to provincial and territorial resources to assist physicians in conversations about advanced care planning with their patients.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association recommends the use of a national advance care planning toolkit website with references to provincial and territorial resources to assist physicians in conversations about advanced care planning with their patients.
Less detail

Advanced care directive functionality

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11191
Last Reviewed
2018-03-03
Date
2014-03-01
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
BD14-05-163
The Canadian Medical Association advocates for the inclusion of advanced care directive functionality as an electronic medical record vendor conformance and usability requirement.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2018-03-03
Date
2014-03-01
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
BD14-05-163
The Canadian Medical Association advocates for the inclusion of advanced care directive functionality as an electronic medical record vendor conformance and usability requirement.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association advocates for the inclusion of advanced care directive functionality as an electronic medical record vendor conformance and usability requirement.
Less detail

Advance care plans

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11215
Last Reviewed
2018-03-03
Date
2014-08-20
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC14-19
The Canadian Medical Association supports the integration of advance care plans within patient records.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2018-03-03
Date
2014-08-20
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC14-19
The Canadian Medical Association supports the integration of advance care plans within patient records.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association supports the integration of advance care plans within patient records.
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Emergency funding for end-of-life care for uninsured people residing in Canada

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11221
Date
2014-08-20
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Health systems, system funding and performance
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC14-26
The Canadian Medical Association supports in principle emergency funding for end-of-life care for uninsured people residing in Canada.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Date
2014-08-20
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Health systems, system funding and performance
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC14-26
The Canadian Medical Association supports in principle emergency funding for end-of-life care for uninsured people residing in Canada.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association supports in principle emergency funding for end-of-life care for uninsured people residing in Canada.
Less detail

Carter: CMA submission regarding euthanasia and assisted death

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy13935
Last Reviewed
2011-03-05
Date
2014-08-27
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  1 document  
Policy Type
Court submission
Last Reviewed
2011-03-05
Date
2014-08-27
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
S.C.C. No. 35591 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CANADA (ON APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF APPEAL FOR BRITISH COLUMBIA) BETWEEN: LEE CARTER, HOLLIS JOHNSON, DR. WILLIAM SHOICHET, THE BRITISH COLUMBIA CIVIL LIBERTIES ASSOCIATION and GLORIA TAYLOR Appellants - and - ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CANADA and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF BRITISH COLUMBIA Respondents -and- ATTORNEY GENERAL OF ONTARIO, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF QUEBEC, ALLIANCE OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES WHO ARE SUPPORTIVE OF LEGAL ASSISTED DYING SOCIETY, ASSOCIATION FOR REFORMED POLITICAL ACTION CANADA, THE CANADIAN CIVIL LIBERTIES ASSOCIATION, THE CANADIAN HIV/AIDS LEGAL NETWORK AND THE HIV & AIDS LEGAL CLINIC ONTARIO, THE CANADIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, THE CANADIAN UNITARIAN COUNCIL, THE CATHOLIC CIVIL RIGHTS LEAGUE, THE FAITH AND FREEDOM ALLIANCE AND THE PROTECTION OF CONSCIENCE PROJECT, THE CATHOLIC HEALTH ALLIANCE OF CANADA, THE CHRISTIAN LEGAL FELLOWSHIP, THE CHRISTIAN MEDICAL AND DENTAL SOCIETY OF CANADA, THE CANADIAN FEDERATION OF CATHOLIC PHYSICIANS' SOCIETIES, THE COLLECTIF DES MEDECINS CONTRE L'EUTHANASIE, THE COUNCIL OF CANADIANS WITH DISABILITIES AND THE CANADIAN SOCIETY FOR COMMUNITY LIVING, THE CRIMINAL LA WYERS' ASSOCIATION (ONTARIO), DYING WITH DIGNITY, THE EV ANGELICAL FELLOWSHIP OF CANADA, THE FAREWELL FOUNDATION FOR THE RIGHT TO DIE and THE ASSOCIATION QUEBECOISE POUR LE DROIT DE MOURIR DANS LA DIGNITE, and THE EUTHANASIA PREVENTION COALITION AND THE EUTHANASIA PREVENTION COALITION - BRITISH COLUMBIA FACTUM OF THE INTERVENER THE CANADIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION Rules 37 and 42 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada Interveners POLLEY FAITH LLP The Victory Building 80 Richmond Street West Suite 1300 Toronto, Ontario M5H 2A4 Harry Underwood and Jessica Prince Tel: ( 416) 365-1600 Fax: (416) 365-1601 hunderwood@polleyfaith.com jprince@polleyfaith.com Jean Nelson Tel: (613) 731-8610 Fax: (613) 526-7571 j ean.nelson@cma.ca Counsel for the Intervener, the Canadian Medical Association GOWLING LAFLEUR HENDERSON LLP 160 Elgin Street, Suite 2600 Ottawa, Ontario KIP 1 C3 D. Lynne Watt Tel: (613) 786-8695 Fax: (613) 788-3509 email lynne. watt@gowlings.com Ottawa Agent for the Intervener, the Canadian Medical Association ORIGINAL TO: The Registrar Supreme Court of Canada 301 Wellington Street Ottawa, Ontario KIA OJI COPIES TO: Counsel for the Appellants, Lee Carter, Hollis Johnson, Dr. William Shoichet, The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association and Gloria Taylor Joseph J. Arvay, Q.C. and Alison M. Latimer Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP 25 th Floor, 700 West Georgia Street Vancouver, BC V7Y 1B3 Tel: (604) 684-9151 Fax: (604) 661-9349 Email: jarvay@farris.com -and- Sheila M. Tucker Davis LLP 2800- 666 Burrard Street Vancouver, BC V6C 2Z7 Tel: (604) 643-2980 Fax: (604) 605-3781 Email: stucker@davis.ca Agent for the Appellants Jeffrey W. Beedell Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP 160 Elgin Street, Suite 2600 Ottawa, Ontario KIP 1C3 Tel: (613) 233-1781 Fax: (613) 788-3587 Email: jeff. beedell@gowlings.com Counsel for the Respondent, Attorney General of Canada Donnaree Nygard and Robert Frater Department of Justice Canada 900 - 840 Howe Street Vancouver, BC V6Z 2S9 Tel: (604) 666-3049 Fax: (604) 775-5942 Email: donnaree.nygard@justice.gc.ca Counsel for the Respondent, Attorney General of British Columbia Jean M. Walters Ministry of Justice Legal Services Branch 6th Floor - 1001 Douglas Street PO Box 9230 Stn Prov Govt Victoria, BC V8W 9J7 Tel: (250) 356-8894 Fax: (250) 356-9154 Email: jean.walters@gov.bc.ca Counsel for the Intervener, Attorney General of Ontario Zachary Green Attorney General of Ontario 720 Bay Street, 4th Floor Toronto, ON MSG 2Kl Tel: ( 416) 326-4460 Fax: (416) 326-4015 Email: zachary.green@ontario.ca Agent for the Respondent, Attorney General of Canada Robert Frater Department of Justice Canada Civil Litigation Section 50 O'Connor Street, Suite 50 Ottawa, Ontario KIA 0H8 Tel: (613) 670-6289 Fax: (613) 954-1920 Email: ro bert. frater@ j ustice. gc.ca Agent for the Respondent, Attorney General of British Columbia Robert E. Houston, Q.C. Burke-Robertson 441 MacLaren Street, Suite 200 Ottawa, Ontario K2P 2H3 Tel: (613) 236-9665 Fax: (613) 235-4430 Email: rhouston@burkerobertson.com Agent for the Intervener, Attorney General of Ontario Robert E. Houston, Q.C. Burke-Robertson 441 MacLaren Street, Suite 200 Ottawa, Ontario K2P 2H3 Tel: (613) 236-9665 Fax: (613) 235-4430 Email: rhouston@burkerobertson.com Counsel for the Intervener, Attorney General of Quebec Sylvain Leboef and Syltiane Goulet Procureur general du Quebec 1200, Route de L'Eglise, 2eme etage Quebec, QC GlV 4Ml Tel: (418) 643-1477 Fax: ( 418) 644-7030 Email: sylvain.leboeuf@justice.gouv.gc.ca Counsel for the Intervener, Council of Canadians with Disabilities and the Canadian Association for Community Living David Baker Sarah Mohamed Bakerlaw 4 711 Yonge Street, Suite 509 Toronto, Ontario M2N 6K8 Tel: (416) 533-0040 Fax: ( 416) 533-0050 Email: dbaker@bakerlaw.ca Counsel for the Intervener, Christian Legal Fellowship Gerald D. Chipeur, Q.C. Miller Thomirson LLP 3000, 700-9t A venue SW Calgary, Alberta T2P 3V4 Tel: (403) 298-2425 Fax: (403) 262-0007 Agent for the Intervener, Attorney General of Quebec Pierre Landry Noel & Associes 111 Champlain Street Gatineau, QC J8X 3Rl Tel: (819)771-7393 Fax: (819) 771-5397 Email: p.landry@noelassocies.com Agent for the Intervener, Council of Canadians with Disabilities and the Canadian Association for Community Living Marie-France Major Supreme Advocacy LLP 397 Gladstone A venue, Suite 100 Ottawa, Ontario K2P 0Y9 Tel: (613) 695-8855 Ext: 102 Fax: (613) 695-8580 Email: mfmajor@supremeadvocacy.ca Agent for the Intervener, Christian Legal Fellowship Eugene Meehan, Q.C. Supreme Advocacy LLP 397 Gladstone A venue, Suite 100 Ottawa, Ontario K2P 0Y9 Tel: (613) 695-8855 Ext: 101 Fax: (613) 695-8580 Email: emeehan@supremeadvocacy.ca Counsel for the Intervener, Agent for the Intervener, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario Gordon Capern Michael Fenrick Paliare, Roland, Rosenberg, Rothstein, LLP 155 Wellington Street West, 35 th Floor Toronto, Ontario M5V 3Hl Tel: ( 416) 646-4311 Fax: (416) 646-4301 Email: gordon.capem@paliareroland.com Counsel for the Intervener, Reformed Political Action Canada Andre Schutten ARPA Canada I Rideau Street, Suite 700 Ottawa, Ontario KIN 8S7 Tel: (613) 297-5172 Fax: (613) 670-5701 Email: andre@ARP A Canada.ca Counsel for the Intervener, Collectif des medecins contre l'euthanasie Pierre Bienvenu Andres C. Garin Vincent Rochette Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP 1, Place Ville Marie, Bureau 2500 Montreal, Quebec H3B IRI Tel: (514) 847-4452 Fax: (514) 286-5474 Email: pierre. bienvenue@nortonrose.com Marie-France Major Supreme Advocacy LLP 397 Gladstone Avenue, Suite 100 Ottawa, Ontario K2P 0Y9 Tel: (613) 695-8855 Ext: 102 Fax: (613) 695-8580 Email: mfmajor@supremeadvocacy.ca Agent for the Intervener, Collectif des medecins contre l'euthanasie Sally Gomery Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP 1500-45 O'Connor Street Ottawa, Ontario KIP 1A4 Tel: (613) 780-8604 Fax: (613) 230-5459 Email: sally. gomery@nortonrose.com Counsel for the Intervener, Evangelical Fellowship of Canada Geoffrey Trotter Geoffrey Trotter Law Corporation 1185 West Georgia Street, suite 1700 Vancouver, British Columbia V6E 4E6 Tel: (604) 678-9190 Fax: (604) 259-2459 Email: gt @ gtlawcorp .com Counsel for the Intervener, Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada Albertos Polizogopoulos Vincent Dagenais Gibson LLP 260 Dalhousie Street, Suite 400 Ottawa, Ontario KlN 7E4 Tel: (613) 241-2701 Fax: (613) 241-2599 Email: albertos @ vdg.ca Counsel for the Intervener, Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians' Societies Geoffrey Trotter Geoffrey Trotter Law Corporation 1185 West Georgia Street, suite 1700 Vancouver, British Columbia V6E 4E6 Tel: (604) 678-9190 Fax: (604) 259-2459 Email: gt@gtlawcorp.com Agent for the Intervener, Evangelical Fellowship of Canada Albertos Polizogopoulos Vincent Dagenais Gibson LLP 260 Dalhousie Street, Suite 400 Ottawa, Ontario K 1 N 7E4 Tel : (613) 241-2701 Fax: (613) 241-2599 Rmail: albertos@vdg.ca Agent for the Intervener, Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians' Societies Marie-France Major Supreme Advocacy LLP 397 Gladstone Avenue, Suite 100 Ottawa, Ontario K2P 0Y9 Tel: (613) 695-8855 Ext : 102 Fax: (613) 695-8580 Email: mfmajor@.supremeadvocacy.ca Counsel for the Intervener, Dying with Dignity Cynthia Petersen Kelly Doctor Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP 1100-20 Dundas Street West, Box 180 Toronto, Ontario MSG 2G8 Tel: (416) 977-6070 Fax: (416) 591-7333 Email: cpetersen@sgmlaw.com Counsel for the Intervener, Catholic Health Alliance of Canada Russell G. Gibson Albertos Polizogopoulos Vincent Dagenais Gibson LLP 260 Dalhousie Street, Suite 400 Ottawa, Ontario K 1 N 7E4 Tel: (613) 241-2701 Ext. 229 Fax: (613) 241-2599 Email: russell.gibson@vdg.ca Counsel for the Intervener, Criminal Lawyers' Association (Ontario) Marlys A. Edwarth Daniel Sheppard Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP 1100-20 Dundas Street West Toronto, Ontario MSG 2G8 Tel: (416) 979-4380 Fax: (416) 979-4430 Email: medwarth@ sgmlaw.com Agent for the Intervener, Dying with Dignity Raija Pulkkinen Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP 500-30 Metcalfe Street Ottawa, Ontario KIP 5L4 Tel: (613) 235-5327 Fax: (613) 235-3041 Email: rpulkkinen@sgmlaw.com Agent for the Intervener, Criminal Lawyers' Association (Ontario) D. Lynne Watt Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP 160 Elgin Street, Suite 2600 Ottawa, Ontario K 1 P 1 C3 Tel: (613) 786-8695 Fax: (613) 788-3509 Email: lynne. watt@gowlings.com Counsel for the Intervener, Farewell Foundation For The Right To Die Joseph J. Arvay, Q.C. Alison Latimer Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP 700 West Georgia Street, 25th Floor Vancouver, British Columbia V7Y 1B3 Tel: (604) 684-9151 Fax: (604) 661-9349 Email: jarvay@farris.com Counsel for the Intervener, Association Quebecoise pour le droit de mourir dans la dignite Joseph J. Arvay, Q.C. Alison Latimer Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP 700 West Georgia Street, 25th Floor Vancouver, British Columbia V7Y 1B3 Tel: (604) 684-9151 Fax: (604) 661-9349 Email: jarvay@farris.com Counsel for the Intervener, Canadian Civil Liberties Association Christopher D. Bredt Ewa Krajewska Margot Finley Borden Ladner Gervais LLP Scotia Plaza, 40 King Street West Toronto, Ontario M5H 3Y4 Tel: (416) 367-6165 Fax: (416) 361-7063 Email: cbredt@blg.com Agent for the Intervener, Farewell Foundation For The Right To Die Jeffrey W. Beedell Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP 160 Elgin Street, Suite 2600 Ottawa, Ontario KIP 1C3 Tel: (613) 786-0171 Fax: (613) 788-3587 Email: jeff.beedell@gowlings.com Agent for the Intervener, Association Quebecoise pour le droit de mourir dans la dignite Jeffrey W. Beedell Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP 160 Elgin Street, Suite 2600 Ottawa, Ontario K 1 P 1 C3 Tel: (613) 786-0171 Fax: (613) 788-3587 Email: jeff.beedell@gowling .com Agent for the Intervener, Canadian Civil Liberties Association Nadia Effendi Borden Ladner Gervais LLP World Exchange Plaza 100 Queen Street, Suite 100 Ottawa, Ontario KlP 119 Tel: (613) 237-5160 Fax: (613) 230-8842 Counsel for the Intervener, Catholic Civil Rights League Ranjan K. Agarwal Jack R. Maslen Bennett Jones LLP 3400 One First Canadian Place P.O. Box 130, Station 1st Canadian Place Toronto, Ontario M5X 1A4 Tel: (416) 863-1200 Fax: (416) 863-1716 Email: agarwalr@bennettjones.com Counsel for the Intervener, Faith and Freedom Alliance and Protection of Conscience Project Geoffrey Trotter Ranjan K. Agarwal Jack R. Maslen Geoffrey Trotter Law Corporation 1185 West Georgia Street, suite 1700 Vancouver, British Columbia V6E 4E6 Tel: (604) 678-9190 Fax: (604) 259-2459 Email: gt@gtlawcorp.com Agent for the Intervener, Catholic Civil Rights League Sheridan Scott Bennett Jones LLP 1900-45 O'Connor Street World Exchange Plaza Ottawa, Ontario KlP 1A4 Tel: (613) 683-2302 Fax: (613) 683-2323 Email: scotts@bennettjones.com Agent for the Intervener, Faith and Freedom Alliance and Protection of Conscience Project Marie-France Major Supreme Advocacy LLP 397 Gladstone Avenue, Suite 100 Ottawa, Ontario K2P 0Y9 Tel: (613) 695-8855 Ext: 102 Fax: (613) 695-8580 Email: mfmajor@supremeadvocacy.ca Counsel for the Intervener, Alliance of People with Disabilities who are Supportive of Legal Assisted Dying Society Angus M. Gunn, Q.C. Borden Ladner Gervais LLP 1200-200 Burrard Street Vancouver, British Columbia V7X 1 T2 Tel: (604) 687-5744 Fax: (604) 687-1415 Counsel for the Intervener, Canadian Unitarian Council Tim A. Dickson R.J.M. Androsoff Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP 700 West Georgia Street, 25 th Floor Vancouver, British Columbia V7Y 1 B3 Tel: (604) 661-9341 Fax: (604) 661-9349 Email: tdickson@farris.com Counsel for the Intervener, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and Euthanasia Prevention Coalition -British Columbia Hugh R. Scher Scher Law Professional Corporation 69· Bloor Street East, Suite 210 Toronto, Ontario M4W 1A9 Tel: (416) 515-9686 Fax: ( 416) 969-1815 Email: hugh@sdlaw.ca Agent for the Intervener, Alliance of People with Disabilities who are Supportive of Legal Assisted Dying Society Nadia Effendi Borden Ladner Gervais LLP World Exchange Plaza 100 Queen Street, Suite 100 Ottawa, Ontario KIP 1J9 Tel: (613) 237-5160 Fax: (613) 230-8842 Agent for the Intervener, Canadian Unitarian Council Nadia Effendi Borden Ladner Gervais LLP World Exchange Plaza 100 Queen Street, Suite 100 Ottawa, Ontario KIP 1J9 Tel: (613) 237-5160 Fax: (613) 230-8842 Agent for the Intervener, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and Euthanasia Prevention Coalition -British Columbia Yael Wexler Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP 55 Metcalfe Street, Suite 1300 Ottawa, Ontario MlP 6L5 Tel: (613) 236-3882 Fax: (613) 230-6423 Email: ywexler@fasken.com Index Part I: Overview of Argument .... ... .. . ... . ... . ...... . ............. ... ... ... ......... .. .. .. . .. ... ... ... .. ... .. ..... .... .. ... ..... 1 Part II: Statement of Argument. ... ... .. ...... ... .. ........ ... ... ..... .... ... .. ..... ... ... ... .. .. ... .... ... ......... ...... ... ..... 2 A. The CMA's policy on euthanasia and assisted suicide .. ....... ......... .... .. ..... ...... ..... ... ... .. 2 B. The implications of a change in the law ...................... .... ... ................. ..... ... ...... .. ... ...... 5 1. Palliative care .............................................................. ...... ... .. ... ... ....... ... ............ . 5 2. Concerns over safeguards .................................. ..... . ........ . .......... .. ......... ........... .. 7 3. Protections for physicians ...... ..... .. .... ......... ... .... ... .. ... .. .. ... ... . .......... . .. ... ... .. ... .. .. ... 8 Part III: Submissions regarding remedy ............. ... ...... ... ... ... .... ... ... ... ........ ............................. ... . 9 Part IV: Submissions regarding costs ..... . ...... ........ ..... .. ........ . ... .. .. ....... ....... ... .... .. ..... ..... .. ... . ..... .. 9 Part V: Request for oral argument.. .... ... .. .. .......... .. .. ... .. ..... .. ..... .. ... . ........ ... .. .... .......... ....... ...... .. 10 -1- Part I: Overview of Argument 1. The policy of the Canadian Medical Association ( the "CMA") on euthanasia and assisted suicide1 forms part of the trial record.2 The policy was debated at successive annual meetings of the CMA's members in 2013 and 2014, resulting in its amendment. In 2013, new definitions were added to clarify key terminology used. In August 2014, a motion was passed by delegates to CMA's General Council, and affirmed by the CMA Board of Directors, supporting the right of all physicians, within the bounds of existing legislation, to follow their conscience when deciding whether or not to provide medical aid in dying. 3 The policy will be amended as a consequence. 2. It is anticipated that the policy, once amended, will continue to reflect the ethical principles for physicians to consider in choosing whether or not to participate in medical aid in dying. 3. The statement of support for matters of conscience now exists alongside the statement in the CMA policy that "Canadian physicians should not participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide." As long as such practices remain illegal, the CMA believes that physicians should not participate in medical aid in dying. If the law were to change, the CMA would support its members who elect to follow their conscience. 4. A portion of the CMA's membership believes that patients should be free to choose medical aid in dying as a matter of autonomy. Other voices highlight that participation would undermine long-established ethical principles applicable to the practice of medicine. Amidst this 1 CMA Policy: Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (Update 2014), https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assetslibrary/ document/en/about-us/PD14-06.pdf#search=assisted%20death. 2 Carter v. Canada (Attorney General}, 2012 BCSC 886, paragraphs 6 and 274. 3 Resolutions adopted at the 14ih Annual Meeting of the Canadian Medical Association, Aug. 18-20, 2014: ~www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-lib rary/document/en/advocacy/ Flnal -Resolutions-GC-2014-end-of-lifecare. pdf. -2- diversity of views, however, there is a unifying theme: one of respect for the alternative perspective. This element was highlighted in the policy motion coming out of the CMA's August 2014 General Council meeting. 5. The CMA accepts that the decision of whether or not medical aid in dying should be allowed as a matter of law is for lawmakers, not medical doctors, to determine. The policy itself acknowledges, uniquely among CMA policies in this respect, that "[i]t is the prerogative of society to decide whether the laws dealing with euthanasia and assisted suicide should be changed." 6. As the national voice of physicians across the country, the CMA intervenes in this appeal desiring to assist the Court by providing its perspective on the rationale for the diverse views expressed by its membership, and to highlight practical considerations that must be assessed if the law were to change. Part II: Statement of Argument A. The CMA's policy on euthanasia and assisted suicide 7. The CMA's policy on euthanasia and assisted suicide4 was adopted in 2007, replacing and consolidating two previous CMA policies5 , and has been amended twice since then as noted above. 8. In an effort to promote broad public and member discussion, in the first half of 2014 the CMA hosted a series of town hall meetings across Canada on end of life care issues. Members of the public and the profession were able to attend the town halls in person, or post comments 4 CMA Policy: Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (Update 2014): https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assetslibrary/ document/en/about-us/PD14-06.pdf#search=assisted%20death. 5 Physician Assisted Death 1995 and Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (1998). -3 - online, to provide their perspectives and opm1ons on, inter alia, euthanasia and physicianassisted suicide. 6 9. The CMA adopts policies in order to inform the organization's advocacy efforts, and to provide physician members with an understanding of the views and opinions of their national representative organization and to reflect the views of its membership. The CMA' s policies are not meant to mandate a standard of care for members or to override an individual physician's conscience. 10. The CMA recognizes that many of its policies are referenced by other health care groups and the courts, as well as the provincial and territorial medical regulatory authorities. 11. In general, those CMA members who oppose medical aid in dying do so because of the derogation from established medical ethical principles and clinical practices that would result. Those who support medical aid in dying do so because of the equally established principles of considering patient well-being and patient autonomy. The policy in its current form reflects these various considerations . 12. Physicians have a tremendous amount of compassion and concern for patients who are suffering near the end of their lives, and strive to improve their patients' quality of life for the remainder of their lives. Physicians are trained to be healers. For most Canadian physicians , the question is not a simple matter of balancing between patient autonomy and professional standards, but goes much deeper, to the very core of what it means to be a medical professional. 6 The CMA published two reports coming out of the end of life care town halls - a public report in June 2014 and a CMA members' report in July 2014 - both of which can be found on the CMA's website. -4- 13. One rationale for the position in opposition to physician participation is that euthanasia and assisted suicide would have, as the policy states, "unpredictable effects on the practice of medicine" as well as the physician-patient relationship. 7 14. At the same time, the policy recognizes the principle of patient autonomy, and the fact that it is a competing consideration. It cites several articles from the CMA Code of Ethics 8 that emphasize the importance of patient well-being and autonomy. 9 Physicians are advised to "consider first the well-being of your patient." 15. Opposition to paiiicipation is found in statements from the World Medical Association and various national medical associations akin to the CMA. 10 In jurisdictions where medical aid in dying has been legali zed , the practice is considered "ethically sound .. . and part of end of life care" by the national medical association in the Netherlands and the Belgian association has not published any policy . 11 7 CMA Policy: Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (Update 2014): https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assetslibrary/ document/en/about-us/PD14-06.pdf#search=assisted%20death. 8 For example, "Provide your patients with the information they need to make informed decisions about their medical care, and answer their questions to the best of your ability"; "Respect the right of a competent patient to accept or reject any medical care recommended"; and "Ascertain wherever possible and recognize your patient's wishes about the initiation, continuation or cessation of life-sustaining treatment." 9 The concept of patient autonomy is usually associated with allowing or at least enabling patients to make their own decisions about which health care treatments they will or will not receive, or incorporating their point of view into assessments of the appropriateness and effectiveness of treatment options. See: Entwistle, VA. , Carter, SM ., Cribb, A. & Mccaffery, K. (2010) . 'Supporting patient autonomy : The importance of clinician-patient relationships'. Journal of General Internal Medicine, vol 25, no. 7, pp. 741-745; and Sullivan MD. "The new subjective medicine: taking the patient's point of view on health care and health" . Soc Sci Med 56:1595 - 1604, 2003 . 10 World Medical Association Statement on Physician-Assisted Dying. Adopted by the 44th World Medical Assembly, Marbella, Spain, September 1992 and editorially revised by the 170th WMA Council Session, Divonne-les-Bains, France, May 2005: http ://www.wma.net/en/30publications/10policies/p13/. British Medical Association. What is the current BMA policy on assisted dying? http://bma.org.uk/practical-support-at-work/ethics/bma-policyassisted- dying. Australian Medical Association. Position Statement on the Role of the Medical Practitioner in End of Life Care 2007, section 10 : https://ama .com.au/position -statement/role-medical- pr actit ioner-end -life-ca re-2007 . American Medical Association' s Opinion 2. 211- Physician-Assisted Suicide: http://www .amaass n.org/ama/pub/p hys i cian-r esources/ medi ca1 -ethic s/ co de-med ica l-ethi cs/o pin ion2211 .page ?. 11 KNMG. Euthanasia in the Netherlands. Available at: http://knmg.artsennet.nl/Dossiers-9/Dossiersthematrefwoord / Levenseinde/ Eu t hanasia-in-the-Netherlands -1.htm. -5- 16. It is acknowledged that just moral and ethical arguments form the basis of arguments that both support and deny assisted death. The CMA accepts that, in the face of such diverse opinion, based on individuals' consciences, it would not be appropriate for it to seek to impose or advocate for a single standard for the medical profession. 1 7. In any event, the CMA accepts that the decision as to the lawfulness of the current prohibition on medical aid in dying is for patients and their elected representatives as lawmakers to determine, not physicians. B. The implications of a change in the law 18. The CMA and its members have practical and procedural concerns to bring to the Court for reflection with respect to the legalization of medical aid in dying and the implications for medical practice. Three such implications are addressed below. 1. Palliative care 19. One question and element highlighted in CMA policy formulation is the role of palliative care and whether adequate public access is a precondition to changing the law. The CMA acknowledges that the desire to access medical aid in dying is predicated, at least in part, on the inadequacy or inability of palliative care to address a patient's needs in particular circumstances. The policy currently recognizes that adequate palliative care is a prerequisite to the legalization of medical aid in dying. That is because patients should never have to choose death because of unbearable pain which can, in fact, be treated, but the treatment cannot, in reality, be accessed. 20. However, even if palliative care were readily available and effective, there would likely be some patients who would still opt for medical aid in dying over palliative care. Moreover, it -6- seems wrong to deny grievously ill patients the option of medical aid in dying simply because of systemic inadequacies in the delivery of palliative care. 21. The public and the medical profession lack current, specific and non-anecdotal information as to the availability of adequate palliative care across Canada. Notwithstanding this lack of rigorous data, concerns are often expressed. 12 As Justice Smith held at trial, "High quality palliative care is far from universally available in Canada."13 The policy itself provides that "[ e ]fforts to broaden the availability of palliative care in Canada should be intensified." 22. Canada has no national strategy to ensure the delivery of a uniformly high standard of palliative care across the country. Similarly, there are no national uniform standards which direct when and how palliative care is to be provided and by which physicians. At the CMA's annual meeting in August 2014, motions were passed as policy affirming that (i) all health care providers should have access to referral for palliative care services and expertise, (ii) a strategy should be developed for advance care planning, palliative and end of life care in all provinces and territories, and (iii) the CMA will engage in physician human resource planning to develop an appropriate strategy to ensure the delivery of quality palliative care throughout Canada. 14 23. Regardless of the outcome of this appeal, the Canadian public and the medical profession must unite in insisting upon the dedication of appropriate resources to overcome the deficiencies identified above. Palliative care will continue to be a focus of the CMA's future policy development. 12 The Senate of Canada: the Honourable Sharon Carstairs, Raising the Bar: A Roadmap for the Future of Palliative Care in Canada, June 2010, http://www.chpca.net/media/7859/Raising the Bar June 2010.pdf, pages 12 and 16. 13 Carter v. Canada (Attorney General). 2012 BCSC 886, paragraph 192. 14 Resolutions adopted at the 14ih Annual Meeting of the Canadian Medical Association, Aug. 18-20, 2014: https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assets~libra ry/document/en/advocacy/Final-Resolutions-GC-2014-end-of-!ife-care.pdf -7- 2. Concerns over safeguards 24. The trial judge placed great reliance on the ability of physicians to assess the competency of patients requesting medical aid in dying and the voluntariness of their wishes. 15 The CMA submits that the challenges physicians will face in making these assessments have been understated, especially in the end of life care context where the consequences of decisions are particularly grave and in a public medical system in which resource constraints are a pressing issue. 16 25. The CMA submits that these assessments will involve significant new responsibilities that warrant comprehensive study by and with physicians for the following reasons: 15 a) Patients must be afforded a full right of informed consent, but the ordinary context in which a physician obtains the patient's informed consent would not apply since the intervention would be initiated not by the physician's recommendation but by the patient's request and since the patient's decision may tum more than usually is the case upon considerations apart from the expected efficacy of the treatment. b) A patient may be subject to influences which the patient is motivated not to disclose to his or her physician and which may be very difficult to detect. c) Such important decisions are best made following careful discussions between physician and patient, well in advance, concerning the patient's end of life wishes generally. The CMA and its provincial and territorial medical association colleagues note that these types of discussions do not now routinely occur, and that when they do, patients' assessments of their goals can and do evolve over the course of their illness. 17 Carter v. Canada (Attorney General}, 2012 BCSC 886, paragraphs 883, 1240 and 1367. 16 Chaoulli v. Quebec (Attorney General}, (2005] 1 SCR 791, paragraphs 173 and 221-222. 17 The Policy urges that "a Canadian study of medical decision making during dying" be undertaken. It explains that "relatively little" is known about "the frequency of various medical decisions made near the end of life, how these -8- d) It may be very difficult to assess competency and voluntariness in some patients (for example, the very old, the very ill and the depressed) and in some settings (for example, the emergency room and the intensive care unit) where there may not be an established physician-patient relationship. e) Institutional supports are lacking, including recognition in provincial fee schedules of the time that is required for meetings with patients and their families. 3. Protections for physicians 26. The CMA submits that, if the law were to change, any regime of medical aid in dying must legally protect those physicians who choose to participate from criminal, civil or disciplinary proceedings or sanctions. 27. In addition, if the law were to change, no physician should be compelled to participate in or provide medical aid in dying to a patient, either at all, because the physician conscientiously objects to medical aid in dying, or in individual cases, in which the physician makes a clinical assessment that the patient's decision is contrary to the patient's best interests. Notably, no jurisdiction that has legalized medical aid in dying compels physician participation. 18 If the decisions are made and the satisfaction of patients, families, physicians and other caregivers with the decisionmaking process and outcomes." See also the Ontario Medical Association, 'Ontario Doctors Launch End of Life Care Plan'. Available at: https:Uwww.oma.org/resources/documents/eolcstrategyframework.pdf. 18 Quebec: Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, 1st Sess, 41st Leg, Quebec, 2014 cl 50 (assented to 10 June 2014), SQ 2014, c2; Netherlands: Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act (2002) .b.1ti;! ://www .eu th anasi ecom missie .n 1/1 mages/Wet%20toetsi ng%201evensbeei nd iging%20op%20verzoek%20en%20 hulp%20bij%20zelfdoding%20Engels tcm52-36287.pdf; Switzerland: Suiss Criminal Code, Book Two : Specific Provisions, Title One: Offences against Life and Limb, Article 115 (1942). http://www.admin.ch/ opc/ en/ classifiedcompilation/ 19370083/index.html; Belgium: Loi relative a l'euthanasie, Chapitre 6, article 14 (2002) http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgi lei/change lg.pl?language=fr&la=F&ta ble name=loi&cn=2002052837; Luxembourg: Loi du 16 mars 2009 sur l'euthanasie et /'assistance au suicide, Chapitre 7, article 15 (2009). http://www.legil ux. pu bl ic.Ju/1 eg/a/arch ives/2009/0046/a046. pdf#page= 7; Washington: The Washington Death with Dignity Act, RCW, 70 §70.245.190 (2009). http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=70.245.190; Oregon: The Oregon Death with Dignity Act, ORS, 127 §127.885 4.01 (1997). http ://public. hea Ith. oregon .gov /P roviderP a rtnerReso u rces/Eva I u ati on Res ea rch/Deathwith Dign i tyAct/Docu men ts/ statute.pdf; Vermont: An act relating to patient choice and control at the end of life, VSA, 113 § 5285 (a) {2013). -9- attending physician declines to participate, every jurisdiction that has legalized medical aid in dying has adopted a process for eligible patients to be transferred to a participating physician. 19 28. While the Court cannot and should not set out a comprehensive regime, the CMA submits that it can indicate that a practicable legislative regime for medical aid in dying must legally protect those physicians who choose to provide this new intervention to their patients, as well as those who do not. Part III: Submissions regarding remedy 29. If the law is changed, the CMA would ask this Court to adopt a remedy that would preserve the autonomy and constitutional rights of patients and their health care providers. To that end, the CMA asks the Court to adopt a remedy akin to what Justice Smith ordered at the trial level: suspending the effect of a declaration for one year from the date of any decision and instituting a process for individual exemptions such as that afforded to the late Ms. Taylor. Part IV: Submissions regarding costs 30. The CMA seeks no costs and asks that none be awarded against it. http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2014/Acts/ACT039.pdf; New-Mexico: Morris v New-Mexico (2014); and Montana: Baxter v Montana, 482 LEXIS at 59 (2008). 19 Canadian Medical Association, Schedule A: Legal Status of Physician-Assisted Dying (PAD) in Jurisdictions with Legislation, https://www.cma.ca/ Assets/ assets-II bra ry/ document/ en/advocacy/ EO L/Leg a 1-status-p hysicia nassi sted-d eat h-j u risd i cti on slegislation. odf#search=schedule%20A%3A%201egal%20stacus%20of%20physician%2Dassisted%20death, page 3. -10- Part V: Request for oral argument 31. The CMA requests permission to make fifteen minutes of oral argument at the hearing of this appeal. ALL OF WHICH IS RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED, this 27th day of August, 2014. /_/ - Harry Underwood Jean Nels
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