FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government is introducing legislation that would allow advance health-care directives.

Such directives are similar to living wills and enable people to express their wishes regarding health-care decisions, appoint a proxy to make those decisions on their behalf, or both.

“Many New Brunswickers have asked to have this tool available to them as they make important choices in planning their lives,” said Health Minister Victor Boudreau. “Today I am proud to say that our government is listening to New Brunswickers and introducing this new legislation that will not only help patients, but also their families and caregivers.”

The provincial government held public consultations regarding this idea in 2008 and 2009, and concluded that New Brunswickers generally supported it.

Boudreau said advance health-care directives are meant to reduce uncertainty and anxiety on the part of patients by assuring them that their values and beliefs are known and their wishes will be respected.

The directives could set out the circumstances in which a person would be permitted to die a natural death but could not authorize medical assistance in dying as per restrictions in the federal Criminal Code. They do not need to be under seal like a power of attorney and, therefore, are more accessible and affordable to people who do not wish to use a lawyer.

Most other jurisdictions across Canada already have similar measures in place.