National public health association calls on Parliamentarians to respect the principles of public health ethics and social justice in new legislation on medical assistance in dying

OTTAWA, ON – April 15, 2016 – As a result of the 2015 decision by the Supreme Court of Canada (Carter v. Canada), the Government of Canada has developed legislation regarding medical assistance in dying. The Canadian Public Health Association recognizes that this legislation will provide additional options for those suffering with terminal illness, but underscores the need that such decisions be based on the best available medical information for each case, and the moral and ethical concerns of both the person requesting assistance and the health professional(s) providing the service.

“These considerations respect the principles of public health ethics and social justice,” said Ardene Robinson Vollman, Chair of CPHA’s Board of Directors, “which are core to the foundation of public health practice.”

The proposed legislation, however, does not provide for the issues of advance requests, mature minors, and individuals with mental illnesses who might seek medical assistance in dying.

The Association is concerned by these limitations and affirms its support for the proposals contained in the Report of the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying, and their alignment with the following considerations:

  • Right of the individual for personal choice in medical care;
  • Interpretation of the rights of the individual to reflect the law and ethical practice;
  • The notion that medical assistance in dying causes benefit for those making the choice; and
  • An obligation that the action does not intentionally inflict harm.

“It’s unfortunate that the legislation does not include all of the recommendations of the Special Joint Committee,” said Ian Culbert, CPHA’s Executive Director, “but we recognize the complexity of these issues, and look forward to participating in the consultations by  the Ministers of Justice and Health concerning how best to address them.”

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For more information contact:

Emma Mallach, Communications Manager
Canadian Public Health Association
Telephone: 613.725.3769 ext 160
Mobile: 613.914.1151
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About CPHA
Founded in 1910, the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) is the independent voice for public health in Canada with links to the national and international communities. CPHA’s mission is to enhance the health of people in Canada and to contribute to a healthier and more equitable world. As the only Canadian non-governmental organization focused exclusively on public health, CPHA is uniquely positioned to advise decision-makers about public health system reform and to guide initiatives to help safeguard the personal and community health of Canadians and people around the world.