As of June 17, 2016, it is legal for patients to request physician assisted suicide in Canada. Despite the limited protection of freedom of conscience in federal legislation (Bill C-14) and the freedom of conscience enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, there are still provinces where freedom of conscience rights are not being protected.
In Ontario, for example, the College of Physicians and Surgeons (CPSO) has abandoned thousands of physicians who cannot refer their patients for physician-assisted dying.
In Manitoba, the government passed Bill 34, which protects physicians, nurses ,and pharmacists from being required to perform or assist in performing euthanasia contrary to their conscience. This bill was passed with all-party support after Manitoba lawmakers received more than 14,000 letters as a result of our Call for Conscience campaign.
Every provincial and territorial government should be encouraged to pass legislation that ensures the freedom of conscience rights of physicians, nurses and pharmacists are protected.
Although healthcare workers respect patients' decisions, they entered medicine to save lives, not to end them.