Provincial directives on no criminal prosecution in respect of a physician-assisted death13 June 2016
FREDERICTON (GNB) – The New Brunswick Public Prosecution Services released a provincial directive to all Crown prosecutors outlining the circumstances in which there would be no criminal prosecution in respect of a physician-assisted death.
The provincial directive is effective immediately. The services will communicate in the coming days with the RCMP and the municipal police forces in the province to ask them to consult with them prior to commencing any investigation of health professionals participating in provision of physician-assisted death.
The services wish to offer assurance that health professionals participating in the provision of physician-assisted death within the criteria established by the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Carter will not be prosecuted in New Brunswick.
On February 6, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada issued judgment in Carter v. Canada (Attorney General) 2015 SCC 5 and declared sections 241(b) and 14 of the Criminal Code to be unconstitutional and of no force and effect to the extent that they prohibited physician-assisted death for a competent adult person who (1) clearly consents to the termination of life and (2) has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability), that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.
As of June 6, 2016, physician-assisted death, provided within the guidelines of the Carter decision, is no longer illegal in Canada.
The federal government has proposed medical assistance in dying legislation, which is currently moving through the parliamentary process. That legislation has, however, not yet passed and clarity was required in detailing the circumstances in which a physician-assisted death can be legally provided
The directive is available online.