Collège des Médecins du Québec
Freedom of conscience and religion
Annotated Extracts and Links
Code of Ethics of Physicians (R.S.Q., c. C-26, s.
24. A physician must, where his personal convictions prevent him from
prescribing or providing professional services that may be appropriate,
acquaint his patient with such convictions; he must also advise him of the
possible consequences of not receiving such professional services.
physician must then offer to help the patient find another physician.
Legal, Ethical and Organizational Aspects of Medical Practice in Québec
(ALDO Quebec) (February, 2019)
Personal Convictions: Conscientious Objection
Caution: machine-assisted translation
Le médecin doit également informer son patient de ses convictions personnelles, de nature morale ou religieuse, qui peuvent l’empêcher de lui recommander ou de lui fournir des services professionnels qui pourraient être appropriés, et l’aviser des conséquences possibles de l’absence de tels services professionnels. Il doit alors offrir au patient de l’aider dans la recherche d’un autre médecin (art. 24).
The physician must also inform his patient of his personal convictions, of a moral or religious nature, which may prevent him from recommending or providing him with professional services which might be appropriate, and advise him of the possible consequences of the absence of such professional services. He must then offer to help the patient to find another doctor (art.24).
The Code of Ethics and the gloss on the Code by ALDO Quebec, an authoritative document, requires an objecting physician to
help a patient find another physician, but do not require the objector find someone willing to provide a morally contested
procedure. That requirement, stated in the previous version of ALDO, has been deleted.
An Act Respecting End-of-Life Care
31. A physician practising in a centre
operated by an institution who refuses a request for medical aid in dying
for a reason not based on section 29 must, as soon as possible, notify the
executive director of the institution or
any other person designated by the executive director and forward the
request form given to the physician, if that
is the case, to the executive director
or designated person. The executive director of
the institution or designated person must then take the necessary
steps to find, as soon as possible, another
physician willing to deal with the request in accordance with section 29.
If the physician who receives the request practises in a private health
facility and does not provide medical aid in dying,
the physician must, as soon as possible, notify the
executive director of the local authority referred
to in section 99.4 of the Act respecting health services and social services
that serves the territory in which the patient making the request resides,
or notify the person designated by the executive director. The physician
forwards the request form received, if that is the case, to the executive
director or designated person and the steps mentioned in the first
paragraph must be taken.
If no local authority serves the territory in which the patient resides,
the notice referred to in the second paragraph is forwarded to the executive
director of the institution operating a local community service centre in
the territory or the person designated by the executive director.
50. A physician may refuse to administer
medical aid in dying because of personal convictions, and a health
professional may refuse to take part in administering it for the same
reason. In such a case, the physician or health professional must
nevertheless ensure that continuity of care is provided to the patient, in
accordance with their code of ethics and the patient's wishes. In addition,
the physician must comply with the procedure established in section 31.
The Act Respecting End of Life Care is Quebec's euthanasia
Section 31 applies to physicians who refuse to provide euthanasia for
reasons other than the patient not fitting the criteria for MAD service,
including conscientious objection. They must notify an
administrator of their refusal with respect to a particular patient, and
the administrator assumes responsiblity for finding someone willing to
provide the service.
A number of objecting physicians find this unacceptable because it
requires them to put the euthanasia delivery system into motion with
respect to a particular patient (as distinct from giving notice to an
administrator of their unwillingness to provide euthanasia for reasons
Section 50 specifically concerns refusal to provide euthanasia for
reasons of conscience. It imposes two requirements on objecting
physicians. First: they must notify an administrator as required
by Section 31. Second: they must ensure "contintuity of care . . .
in accordance with their code of ethics."
Previously, the postion of the Collège des Médecins du Québec was
that the Code of Ethics for Physicians requires effective referral, but that is no longer the case. It is possible that a 2013 statement by the President and Director of the Collège reflects the the reason for the change. Speaking to Quebec legislators about the pending euthanasia law, he said:
[I]f you have a conscientious objection and it is
you who must undertake to find someone who will do it, at this time,
your conscientious objection is [nullified]. It is as if you did it
anyway. / [Original French] Parce que, si on a une objection de
conscience puis c'est nous qui doive faire la démarche pour trouver la
personne qui va le faire, à ce moment-là, notre objection de conscience
ne s'applique plus. C'est comme si on le faisait quand même.
[Consultations: Tuesday 17 September 2013 -
Vol. 43 no. 34:
Collège des médecins du Québec, (Dr. Charles Bernard, Dr. Yves Robert,
Dr. Michelle Marchand), T#154]