Submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario
Re: Professional Obligations and Human Rights
EI.1 What follows are extracts from submissions made
during the preliminary consultation on Physicians and the Human Rights
Code that ended 5 August, 2014.
EII. Submission 853: Ontario Barrister and Solicitor
EII.1 Two crucial considerations have been overlooked in the Policy:
1. The legal rights of physicians to have their
religious/conscientious beliefs and practices accommodated by their
employers, unions, and vocational associations to the point of undue
2. The CPSO's obligation as a quasi-governmental body
to consider its members' constitutional rights of freedom of conscience and
religion in its policymaking process.
EII.2 I address these issues and make corresponding recommendations in Parts I
and II of this submission.
EII.3 In Part 111, I respond to submissions that appear to be before the CPSO
which suggest that physicians may be compelled, as a matter of blanket
policy, to perform medical services which violate their deeply held
religious and conscientious beliefs. My submission affirms that not only is
the CPSO under no legal obligation to adopt and enforce such a policy, but
it would also risk violation of both the Ontario Human Rights Code and the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms were it to do so.
EII.4 Finally, in Part IV, I summarize and submit my recommendations.
EIII. Submission 1173: Christian Legal Fellowship
EIII.1 . . . The CLF's
membership consists of approximately 550 lawyers, law students, professors,
and others who support its work; with approximately one third of its members
in the Province of Ontario. It has 14 chapters in cities across Canada and
student chapters in most Canadian law schools. While having no direct
denominational affiliation, CLF's members represent more than 30 Christian
denominations working in association together. . .
EIII.2 The CLF has intervened
in numerous legal cases relating to matters of conscience and religious
freedom at the appellate and Supreme Court level. The organization also
engages in policy consultations raising issues that impact, among other
things, religious freedom and human rights. CLF is therefore knowledgeable
and well-positioned to comment on this CPSO Policy.
EIII.3 In reviewing the
Policy, there are three broad areas of concern for CLF. First, we submit
that the Policy fails to recognize that physicians have the right to freedom
of religion and conscience. Second, the Policy fails to recognize that lhe
law protects physicians with religious beliefs from engaging in activities
that violate their religious beliefs. their moral beliefs and their
conscience. Third, the Policy obligates physicians, in "some circumstances"
to actively refer a patient for services which violate the beliefs or
conscience of the physician. . .
EIII.4 Under the law, physicians must be
afforded the ability to align their practices with their conscience in these
controversial areas and others, and that right must be made clear in the
CPSO Policy. CLF therefore urges the CPSO to modify its Policy to reflect
the principles outlined above, ensuring it accurately reflects physicians'
rights pursuant lo the Charter and the Human Rights Code.
Submission 1181: Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms
. . .In its current form, the CPSO Policy misinterprets Ontario's Human
Rights Code ("Code") as providing patients with a legal right or entitlement
to receive medical services they may desire, and to receive these from any
physician they may choose. Contrary to this misinterpretation, the Code
protects the patient from being discriminated against on the basis of the
patient's personal characteristics (e.g. race, religion, sexual
orientation). This protection is fundamentally different from creating an
entitlement to any particular drug, therapy, treatment, or medical
procedure, or an entitlement of receiving this from every doctor.
Further, the current CPSO Policy fails to recognize the Charter's Section
2(a) freedom of conscience and religion, and the manner in which the Charter
applies to protect physicians from state coercion. The Charter is part of
Canada's Constitution - Canada's supreme law - and the CPSO cannot exclude
it from consideration. This means that the CPSO Policy must interpret the
Code in a manner consistent with the Charter. The current CPSO Policy fails
to do so. . .