DWDC’s Clinician’s Advisory Council

News & Updates | December 17, 2021 | Sarah Dobec

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Dying With Dignity Canada (DWDC) is grateful for the support of numerous stakeholder groups, one of which is our Clinician’s Advisory Council (CAC). This passionate group is made up of doctors and nurse practitioners from coast-to-coast who are experts in end-of-life care and advocates of choice.  

In 2013, DWDC launched the CAC to expand the support and legitimacy of the organization’s mission. The CAC is comprised of over 30 clinicians who have volunteered to serve as supporters and advisors to DWDC. They reflect the voices of health care providers across the various regions of our country who are members of DWDC.

Most members of this group are also medical assistance in dying (MAID) practitioners, some are family physicians or work in palliative care – DWDC benefits greatly from their lens as providers of these different types of care. They deliver important insight into the realities of end-of-life care and MAID – both the progress and the challenges.

DWDC provides a safe space for clinicians to share their experiences with the hope that we as an organization can advocate and educate to ensure an equitable and positive experience for both clinicians and their patients.

Key sections of the CAC mandate include:

  • To provide advice to the Board of DWDC on medical matters relating to its vision and mission, in particular issues such as Advance Care Planning, patient rights and medical assistance in dying
  • To serve as a communications link between DWDC and national and provincial medical licensing bodies, associations and sub-specialty associations
  • To serve as media and public spokespersons on issues relating to improving quality of dying, expanding end-of-life choices, and helping Canadians avoid unwanted suffering
  • To assist in the preparation and promotion of policy materials
  • To assist in the drafting and preparation of DWDC policies and submissions to government or other bodies regarding improving quality of dying, expanding end-of-life choices, and helping Canadians avoid unwanted suffering

Dr. Jonathan Reggler, CAC Co-Chair and DWDC board member, shares examples of the work and importance of this advisory council. “DWDC is Canada’s national advocacy organization committed to improving quality of dying and helping Canadians avoid unwanted suffering. This includes people who wish to have MAID available to them. MAID can only occur if there are assessors and providers locally to carry out this work. Although MAID clinicians do have their own professional organizations such as the Canadian Association of MAID Assessors and Providers (CAMAP) to support them, these are not advocacy organizations that seek improvements in the law and the availability of MAID in all parts of Canada. Advocacy is one of the many roles of DWDC, so it is important that it has access to real-life and real-time information from clinicians to inform its work so that it can push for improved end-of-life choice and greater access to MAID for Canadians who need it.

The CAC is important because it is a crucial part of how DWDC learns about the way that legislation on MAID affects MAID providers and assessors in their day-to-day work. Additionally, we hear from clinicians about the problems that arise due to the prohibition on MAID that exist in many publicly-funded, faith-based health care facilities; we learn about the difficulties that exist in certain areas where there are too few providers and assessors; we see how some provinces support MAID clinicians with the development of resources and infrastructure and others less so.

The front-line experiences of the clinicians on the CAC allow them to give trusted advice and feedback to DWDC’s board and staff about issues that affect clinicians and their patients, and to make suggestions or recommendations about DWDC advocacy. For example, most recently, the CAC re-examined the prohibition on MAID by publicly-funded, faith-based facilities across the country and recommended to the Board that there should be an intensification of DWDC’s campaign to bring about change so that patients no longer have to face the suffering caused by a forced transfer.”

The work and accomplishments of DWDC would not be possible without the many people and councils advising our direction and focus. We’d like to thank the members of the CAC for their time and guidance. Learn more about our Clinician’s Advisory Council members here.

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