There is some media reporting that the government is considering removing the right of substitute decision-makers to consent to withdrawal of ventilators. This means that if a patient comes into the ICU, physicians would potentially have the right to take a patient off a ventilator without consent and give it to another patient (perhaps someone with a greater chance of survival). We are monitoring all news in relation to this story and will be posting here and elsewhere if we learn more. As of today, the Health Care Consent Act remains intact.
If this happens, it will be likely be instructive to revisit what the Supreme Court of Canada decided in a 2013 case in which it was found that a substitute decision-maker must provide consent before life support is withdrawn. However, in that case, the parties did not address resource implications and the Court was fairly limited in what it was asked to decide. In fact, the Court said the following:
This... is not a case about who... should have the ultimate say in whether to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment. Nor does the case require us to resolve the philosophical debate over whether a next-of-kin’s decision should trump the physicians’ interest in not being forced to provide non-beneficial treatment and the public interest in not funding treatment deemed of little or no value.
We have written about that decision here:
What does the Rasouli decision mean for families in Ontario?
If such an executive order is passed, this would certainly be a large departure from our current consent regime.
through a difficult time?