Revised: April 1, 2021
On Feb. 6, 2015 — through the Carter v. Canada decision — the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) ruled that all provinces and territories in Canada must permit some form of physician-assisted death. At the time of the Carter decision, the SCC suspended its decision and granted federal and provincial governments time to develop a framework to accommodate medical assistance in dying (referred to as ‘physician-assisted death’ by the SCC). On June 17, 2016 the federal government enacted amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada (the “Criminal Code”) to include circumstances under which medical assistance in dying is permitted.
Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are exempted from criminal liability when dispensing a prescription that is written by a medical or nurse practitioner in providing medical assistance in dying in accordance with applicable federal legislation, provincial or territorial legislation, standards, policies or guidelines.
On September 11, 2019, the Superior Court of Québec, in its Truchon v Canada (AG) decision, declared that it is unconstitutional for the federal Medical Assistance in Dying legislation to require that natural death be reasonably foreseeable to be eligible for MAiD. The Government of Canada’s response to the Truchon decision, Bill C‐7, provides a new legal framework for the provision of MAiD by amending eligibility criteria, procedural requirements, and reporting requirements.
Most notably for pharmacy:
- Patients who opt to self-administer the medication may now enter into agreements with their medical or nurse practitioner that permits the practitioner to administer additional medication if the primary self-administered dose is not effective and the patient has lost consciousness. Pharmacy professionals should discuss the method of administration and confirm the medication requirements with the medical or nurse practitioner.
- The reporting requirement to notify Health Canada within 30 days of dispensing a medication in connection with MAiD, and the accompanying penalty for failure to do so, has been legally expanded from pharmacists to include pharmacy technicians.
*The federal Regulations for the Monitoring of MAID need to be amended for pharmacy technician reporting obligations to be in force. Until the new regulations are in force, there are no new/additional federal reporting requirements under the current reporting regime.
Please review the College’s Guidance Document — Medical Assistance in Dying, which reflects the legislative changes to the eligibility criteria, procedural safeguards, and reporting requirements which came into effect on March 17, 2021.