The CPSO has adopted policies that require medical practitioners to (1) provide “an effective referral” for medical procedures and services, even if those services conflict with a doctor’s conscientious or religious beliefs, and even to perform such services when “necessary to prevent imminent harm”; and (2) provide “an effective referral” for physician-assisted suicide, also known as Medical Assistance in Dying (“MAID”). The Justice Centre’s intervention in these two cases will focus on the Supreme Court’s repeated rulings that there is no Charter right to health care. We make the point that there is therefore no Charter right to any medical procedure, including MAID. Further, there is no right, Charter or otherwise, to demand that an individual doctor perform or provide an “effective referral” for a specific medical procedure or service that violates that doctor’s conscientious or religious beliefs. On the contrary, doctors have protected conscience and religious rights under section 2(a) of the Charter, and government bodies like the College are required to respect those Charter freedoms. This case was heard June 13-15, 2018. The lower Court dismissed the Applicants’ claims in both cases.
The Justice Centre intervened in the CMDS’ appeal of this ruling. The Ontario Court of Appeal heard this case on January 21 and 22, 2019. A decision was released on May 14, 2019. The ruling upholds the lower court decision. CMDS is considering next steps.