From AdvocateDaily.com

OTTAWA – The Harper government is finally set to announce its long-promised public consultation process on the contentious issue of doctor-assisted dying.

As part of the consultation process to be announced this afternoon, The Canadian Press has learned the government is creating a panel of experts to conduct roundtable discussions.

The government has been dragging its feet on the issue since last February when the Supreme Court struck down the prohibition on medically assisted death.

The top court gave the government 12 months to craft a new law that recognizes the right of clearly consenting adults who are enduring intolerable physical or mental suffering to seek medical help to end their lives.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay last month signalled that the Conservative government, if re-elected this fall, would ask the court to extend the deadline. He cited time constraints caused by the election.

However, some legal experts have doubted the court would grant an extension since the government has done little to advance the file since February.

The Conservatives voted against a Liberal motion in late February that called for the creation of a multi-party special committee to consult and report back to Parliament by mid-summer with a proposed framework for a new law. At that time, the government argued that a broader public consultation process was required and promised to launch one “very soon.”

MacKay has already said the government will not propose new legislation until after the Oct. 19 election.

The issue is particularly touchy for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose Conservative caucus and party support base include a strong pro-life contingent that is adamantly opposed to medically assisted dying.

A number of Tory backbenchers have urged the government to invoke the constitutional notwithstanding clause to override the Supreme Court and reinstate the ban on assisted suicide.

But opinion polls suggest an overwhelming majority of Canadians want the legal right to choose to die with dignity, with the help of a doctor.

In an interview with AdvocateDaily.com, Toronto health lawyer Mary Jane Dykeman says in order to have a legislative response in place by early February when the Criminal Code prohibitions fall away, paving the way for physician-assisted dying, a government consultation would need to be launched promptly.

“It would have to be, and be seen to be, both efficient and responsive to stakeholders,” Dykeman says. “Given the nature of summer holidays, some of the real work will inevitably be done after Labour Day and in the lead-up to the October federal election.”

Dykeman, partner with Dykeman Dewhirst O’Brien LLP, agrees that to wait until mid-October to request an extension to the February deadline carries a real risk of it not being granted and time running out.

“But the Catch-22 is that to request it now, without the backdrop of having completed a robust consultation, also decreases the likelihood of the timeframe being extended,” she says.

 

Recommendations from the QCIPA Review Committee

In 2014 the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care called for the formation of a committee to look at current practices in the interpretation and implementation of the Quality of Care Information Protection Act and to make recommendations for improvement. The resulting QCIPA Review Committee, which submitted its report to the Ministry in December 2014, issued 12 recommendations. These recommendations include among other things propositions related to: (i) changes in the legislation; (ii) an increased emphasis on patient involvement in investigations; and (iii) mechanisms to better utilize the lessons learned through investigations. Michael Gleeson was recently interviewed on the topic. See:

http://www.advocatedaily.com/recommendations-for-qcipa-a-good-step-forward.html

ECFAA provides hospital boards with a broad mandate for oversight of patient care

The Medical Advisory Committee (“MAC”) of a hospital has traditionally been the primary mechanism for a board of directors to ensure that a hospital is providing the appropriate quality of care to its patients. However, the Quality Committee of a hospital, as required by the Excellent Care for All Act, may be equally as important for a board. While the MAC is critically important for oversight and evaluation of the patient care provided by privileged health care providers, it has a relatively limited mandate as compared to the Quality Committee. The Quality Committee is tasked with responsibility for, and granted the tools necessary to oversee, all aspects of patient care within a hospital; not just care provided by privileged doctors, dentists, extended class nurses and midwives. Michael Gleeson was recently interviewed on the topic of board oversight of patient care. See:

http://www.advocatedaily.com/ecfaa-provides-broader-oversight-of-patient-care.html

The Risk of Remaining Silent on Jurisdiction in Contracts

How a contract is interpreted by a court is in large part based on the terms set out in the jurisdiction and governing law sections of the contract. In some situations, parties may be tempted to omit these sections of a contract. Before omitting these sections, a party should be aware of the risks. By omitting jurisdiction and governing law clauses a party could be exposing itself to the possibility of: (i) bearing costs related to engagement of legal counsel in a foreign jurisdiction; (ii) bearing costs related to travel to a foreign jurisdiction; and (iii) being subject to a legal regime with remedies and penalties that the party did not consider when negotiating the relevant contract. Michael Gleeson was recently interviewed on the topic. See:

http://www.advocatedaily.com/the-risk-of-remaining-silent-on-jurisdiction-in-contracts.html