Dr. Justine Dembo

Dr. Justine S. Dembo, MD, FRCPC, completed medical school and her residency in psychiatry at the University of Toronto. She is a Clinical Associate and Lecturer at the Thompson Centre for Anxiety Disorders at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, specializing in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and anxiety disorders. She worked in Los Angeles from 2013-2017, both in private practice and at an intensive outpatient program for trauma, and while there, conducted capacity assessments under the California End of Life Option Act.

She has been involved in research on medical assistance in dying (MAID) since 2009, and has conducted capacity assessments for MAID requests in Canada since the Carter ruling came into effect in 2016. She remains an active physician member of Compassion & Choices in California, which advocates for patients requesting aid in dying at the end of life. In Toronto, she is a member of the Joint Centre for Bioethics task force on MAID.

Viewpoint:

“My goal in becoming a physician was, and still is, to alleviate suffering and to help people achieve the best lives they can live. I am of the view that capable individuals who experience their suffering as intolerable, and whose illnesses are grievous and unresponsive to treatment, should be allowed to request a medically supervised and peaceful death. I believe it is crucial to accept subjectivity in suffering: that what might be tolerable for one individual is intolerable to another. I think that Canadians can work toward optimizing palliative care while simultaneously providing MAID for appropriate individuals, and I also believe that individuals with mental illness are often capable with respect to decisions about end of life care.”