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Physician Assisted Dying: Navigating a New Canadian Right

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

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The Empire Club of Canada Presents:
Physician Assisted Dying Panel: Navigating a New Canadian Right

On Feb. 6, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the country’s Criminal Code prohibition on physician assisted dying. In their unanimous decision, the justices on the high court ruled that the decades old ban violated Canadians Charter rights to life, liberty and security of the person, and thus, it could not stand. When it comes into effect in June, the Supreme Court’s will establish choice in dying as a right for all Canadians. But whether desperately ill patients who qualify under the criteria, set out in the judgment, competent adult patients who are suffering intolerably as the result of a grievous and irremediable medical condition and who clearly consent to the termination of life remains to be seen. Right to die activists charge that the federal government’s new assisted dying bill is overly restrictive and doesn’t meet minimum standard laid out in the Supreme Court’s decision. The wording of Bill 14 raises questions about whether Canadians with excruciating chronic illnesses but who are not actively dying will be forced to endure many months or even years of unwanted intolerable suffering because their natural death is not reasonably foreseeable. Other people, not surprisingly, view this proposed new law as a slippery slope with potential unforeseen consequences. With less than two months until the Supreme Court’s decision comes effect, a panel will explore what the new legislation will mean for the right to die movement in Canada and for ordinary Canadians who are exploring their options for end of life. Questions that may be addressed include: Who will have access? Will the rules for assisted dying vary greatly from province to province? Where do we go from here? What does it mean for us as Canadians to have, if worse comes to w our lives? Panelists will include: Dr. James Downar, critical and palliative care physician, University Health Network, and program director for the Conjoint Program in Palliative Care Medicine, University of Toronto; Shanaaz Gokool, CEO, Dying With Dignity Canada and Piya Chattopadhyay, Host, CBC Radio and TVO Television.

Piya Chattopadhyay, Host, CBC Radio and TVO Television

Dr. James Downar, Critical and Palliative Care Physician, University Health Network

Shanaaz Gokool, CEO, Dying With Dignity Canada

*The content presented is free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.*

*Views and Opinions Expressed Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the speakers or panelists are those of the speakers or panelists and do not necessarily reflect or represent the official views and opinions, policy or position held by The Empire Club of Canada.*