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Your rights and the law

Understand your rights as a patient.

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Understanding your rights as a patient is empowering and will help you make informed decisions about treatments and medical procedures. Canada has a publicly funded health care system. Under this system, Canadian residents have reasonable access to medically necessary hospital and health care services without paying out-of-pocket. However, instead of having a single national plan, we have 13 provincial and territorial health care insurance plans. This is why health care laws and procedures may vary by location.

Download a Patient Rights Guide

This guide is a source of information for individuals who are eligible for publicly-funded health services in Canada – including Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

As a patient in Canada, you have the right to:

  • Health care services without discrimination
  • Understand your health condition and the treatments available to you
  • A second opinion
  • Have your Advance Directive/prior capable wishes respected
  • Have the authority of your Substitute Decision-Maker recognized
  • Accept, refuse, or discontinue medical treatments, and to change your mind at any time
  • Decline Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
  • Refuse or stop any treatment at any stage of your health care
  • Refuse nutrition and hydration by artificial means or any other aspects of care
  • Pain and symptom management
  • Palliative care (including palliative sedation) if it is appropriate for your condition
  • Request medical assistance in dying (MAID)
  • View, obtain, amend and limit access to your own health record
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Stay informed

Being informed helps us think about our values and consider what quality of life means to us. It encourages us to think about our wishes in the event of future illness, and what treatments – if any – we would want. Once we understand our rights, we can record our wishes and share them with our loved ones and health care provider(s). This will let others know what we want if we can’t speak for ourselves or don’t have the capacity to make our own health care decisions.

Make an Advance Care Plan

Don’t leave your end-of-life care to chance. Our Advance Care Planning (ACP) Kit invites you to think about and express your wishes for health care and treatment at the end of life.

Empower. Inform. Protect your rights.