As you may have heard yesterday, the Ontario Court of Appeals, in a unanimous decision agreed with the findings of the Divisional Court, regarding the policy on effective referral from College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. Although we were disappointed in the ruling released, there were several things that are important to identify.
Effective referral is not equivalent to a medical referral. There is some room for interpretation here and a possible way out for those who do want to practice Hippocratic Medicine. We believe that, if we had not sued the College, the fact sheet regarding the policy would not have been created. This fact sheet now both makes the distinction between “effective” and “medical” referral clear, as well as being coded in a judicial ruling. This is important.
Together with CPL and CMDS, we held a press conference yesterday at 3 pm and we emphasized 5 points.
- We are disappointed in the decision.
- We are not opposed to providing information and we will not abandon patients.
- We have no interest in impeding access for legal services that other people provide.
- The burden for providing access to care is not the individual physician but the government. We are only a part of the health care system and cannot be responsible for services that we do not provide ourselves.
- Patients should be entitled to have physicians who share their values. In our case a large proportion of our population is Catholic. Many patients want to have physicians that first do no harm. Stopping physicians who do not want to participate in the ending of their patients’ lives will worsen access to health care not improve it.
Ultimately a policy of effective referral in the case of euthanasia and assisted suicide is a vast departure from every other medical jurisdiction. We will continue to advocate for a systems-based solution that meets the needs of all patients, not just the ones who are wanting help to end their lives.
We have 60 days to prayerfully consider our options regarding an appeal of this decision. We will continue to promote the care of patients and their well-being as our primary concern regardless of whether this fight is taken further in a judicial direction. A legislative solution which includes the College is something we can all hope for.
Please join us in prayer for the sake of compassionate health care that never sacrifices the good, despite human weakness.
We would also like to extend our deepest gratitude to the CMDS and the
CPL as well as all of you who continue to support this cause both materially and spiritually.
May Christ the physician of souls and bodies, be our guide and example, in the care of our patients.
With warm regards,
Tim Lau, President CFCPS