Moira McQueen Register file photo.

Medical association takes the debate on end-of-life care across Canada

  • May 1, 2014

Doctors don’t think Canada should mess with the rules that govern how they care for the terminally ill without a serious national debate. Therefore the Canadian Medical Association has been sponsoring town hall meetings across Canada.

The CMA’s National Dialogue on End of Life Care has already been to Vancouver and Whitehorse, NWT. The next stop is Regina May 7. The series wraps up May 27 in Mississauga, Ont.

Toronto’s Catholic Doctor’s Guild is encouraging Catholic doctors to show up for the event at Mississauga’s International Centre. The Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute is also preparing a brief for presentation.

A spokesperson for the CMA told The Catholic Register there has been little or no discussion of the issue from a religious viewpoint at the first two town hall meetings — to the surprise of organizers.

The CMA is not in any way ruling out faith-based perspectives on euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, palliative care or other related issues. They want to hear from everyone.

“It is high time that Canadians have the chance to express their views on issues of care at the end of life,” CMA president Dr. Louis Francescutti told The Catholic Register in an e-mail.

“Canadians deserve a balanced and informative dialogue on these issues. Our goal is to help that discussion take place. All comments will be considered, whether they are religious or non-religious in nature.”

The Mississauga town hall meeting is a tremendous opportunity, said Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute director Moira McQueen.

“It’s almost a gift to us that they’re asking these questions at a broader level and having it open,” she said.

The impression some people have that most doctors favour assisted suicide is a misperception, McQueen said.

“The physicians themselves are not head over heels in favour of physician-assisted suicide, euthanasia or any other terminology they want to use,” she said. “A lot of them think the palliative care route has not been tried.”

Nor should the dialogue be limited to doctors, according to McQueen.

“I don’t know that they should have more of a say in this than the rest of us because, when it comes down to it, it’s a moral matter. Everybody’s views really are important in that.”

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