The recent decision by the Supreme Court of Canada in Carter v. Canada was an irrefutable edict to the legal profession and Canadians at large — get ready for change.
The decision will mean momentous legislative change for jurisdictions across Canada, including Ontario, on how physician-assisted death will play out for individuals and families who will grapple with moral and procedural questions.
Lawyers, too, will play a key role in helping with the difficult questions the possibility of physician-assisted death renders unto clients, and how they will incorporate this decision into end-of-life planning.
The Supreme Court has given an extension of four months to the federal government to hammer out how physician-assisted death will occur. But the court was clear the extension was granted because of the election period last year, and it will be “only four months.”
Media coverage of the decision portrayed Ontario as scrambling in the wake of the ruling, especially compared with jurisdictions such as Quebec, where an assisted-dying law has been in effect since late last year.
The government needs to move quickly on this in order that steps for physicians and legal advisers are clearly articulated and explained so members of the profession can know the limits and be able to carefully and meaningfully advise their clients.
In times of turbulence or dramatic change, lawyers are turned to as captains of expertise and wisdom.
This decision will test their prowess in navigating some of the most delicate areas of the law.
Leadership from above is required, and education of all Canadians, including lawyers, will be paramount.
Stalling is not an option, and both the federal and provincial governments must show their readiness to provide workable, tangible direction to those in the field, who will be entrusted with providing smooth expertise, on the ground and in the fray.
||Alicia (Lisa) Adamson
June 6, 1960 to January 17, 2016
This issue of Law Times is dedicated to long-time
art director Lisa Adamson, who passed away
January 17, 2016.
Most readers won’t know Lisa, but she was the
person who literally put the words on the pages of
Law Times for the last 16 years. She was a talented,
kind, and funny person and an integral member
of our editorial team. We will miss her greatly.