As of June 17, 2016, it is now legal for patients to request physician-assisted suicide in Canada.Despite limited conscience protection in federal legislation (Bill C-14) and freedom of conscience enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms, there are still provinces where conscience rights are at risk.
In Ontario, for example, the College and Physicians and Surgeons (CPSO) has abandoned thousands of doctors who cannot provide referrals for medical assistance in dying.
In Manitoba, the government has tabled legislation that would protect doctors, nurses and pharmacists from having to perform or aid in assisted suicide against their conscience. This legislation needs to be supported in the face of opposition.
Each provincial government needs to be encouraged to take action to ensure that doctors, nurses and pharmacists have their conscience rights protected.
While health care workers respect the decisions of patients, they entered into medicine to save lives, not end them.