College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia
Policies & statements relevant to freedom of conscience
Medical Assistance in Dying (2022)
Effective 2016 Sep | Revised 2022 May 10
Registrants have the right to decide whether or not to perform medical assistance in dying and may make a personal choice not to assess patients for and/or perform MAiD, based on their values and beliefs. Nothing in the Criminal Code compels a person to provide MAiD. While a registrant is not required to make a formal referral on behalf of the patient, they do have a duty of care that must be continuous and non-discriminatory. Registrants should not discuss in detail their personal beliefs with the patient and should not pressure patients to disclose or justify their own beliefs. In all cases, registrants must practise within the confines of the legal system, and always treat the patient with dignity and respect, according to the Canadian Medical Association Code of Ethics and Professionalism.
Transfer of care
Registrants who object to MAiD on the basis of their values and beliefs are required to provide an effective transfer of care for their patients by advising patients that other practitioners may be available to see them, suggesting the patient visit an alternate physician or service, and if authorized by the patient, transferring the medical records as required. Where needed, registrants must offer assistance to the patient and must not abandon the patient. Any registrant receiving a written request for MAiD who transfers the care of the patient to another provider or care coordinator for any reason must complete the provincial form to report details about this transfer of care. Reporting is accomplished by completing and faxing or emailing the Transfer of Request (HLTH 1642) form to the Ministry of Health at 778 698-4678 or email@example.com
Referral by objecting physicians for euthanasia/assisted suicide is not required.
"An effective transfer of care" is defined as "advising patients that other physicians may be available to see them, suggesting the patient visit an alternate physician or service, and if authorized by the patient, transferring the medical records as required."
In other words, the College does not require objecting physicians to initiate a transfer, but only that they cooperate in a patient-initiated transfer if asked to forward the patient's medical record. This is the usual requirement in foreign jurisdictions where euthanasia and assisted suicide are permitted.