After completing the Government of Ontario's online survey, you may wish to share additional thoughts with the province's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. You can submit your letter here: firstname.lastname@example.org, and please copy us at email@example.com.
Here's an outline we developed to help you write a powerful message to the Government of Ontario and the panel tasked with making recommendations to the provinces. Take a look.
Dear Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care,
Executive summary (optional)
In two or three bullet points, summarize your principle recommendations. Samples starter prompts include: “Ontario residents deserve a compassionate and comprehensive approach to accessing physician assisted dying…” or “Considerations for best practices and protocols for physician assisted dying should include…”
The body of your letter
In clear, concise language, tell the Ministry of Health and Long-Term care that there are a number of important considerations that need to be addressed to allow for meaningful access to physician assisted dying in the province of Ontario. For more background on Dying With Dignity Canada’s proposals for legislation, please see our 2015 Draft Policy Framework.
In your own words, you may wish to highlight the following concerns, which relate specifically to provincial health care:
- Physicians and pharmacists should be required to provide information about physician assisted dying according to the established norms of informed consent law.
- Eligible individuals have the legal right to physician assisted death in Canada. To ensure individuals are not abandoned, physicians who are not prepared to provide physician assisted death and pharmacists who are not prepared to fill prescriptions for life-ending medication should be required to provide effective and timely referral.
- Health care institutions (including but not limited to hospitals, hospices, residential or long-term care facilities) that receive public funds should be required to allow physician assisted death within the institution.
Use personal experience. Include a personal story to illustrate why you’re passionate about making sure Ontario’s approach to physician assisted dying is compassionate. Did you watch a loved one suffer in agony through a drawn-out terminal illness? Do you fear that you will face a similar fate? Or were you simply inspired by the late Gloria Taylor, who fought for years for British Columbians to have the right to die with dignity? We learned from Quebec that personal stories were crucial in motivating legislators to vote for choice.
Include your professional qualifications/background, if appropriate. Do you have a background in the healthcare profession? If so, note it. In addition, state how your work has shaped your perspective on end-of-life care. If you don’t work in health field, feel free to state your professional background, too. The government is asking for the input from people from all walks of life — not just doctors and nurses.
Get more in-depth, if you want to. End-of-life choice is a tricky issue — and for good reason. You may want to go into greater detail to explain the changes you would like the province to adopt. Here are some possible questions to address:
- Review DWD Canada's proposed legislative framework to help you weigh in on issues relating to access: How many doctors should be involved? What if there is a question about competency? Should mandatory waiting periods be waved for terminally ill patients?
- You may also wish to discuss that many Canadians want their advance-care directive to enable physician assisted dying should they develop dementia or otherwise lose their capacity to make informed decisions. Advance care directives for this purpose were not addressed in the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling and will not likely be part of legislation concerning physician assisted dying. Should the province of Ontario be reviewing the nature and enforceability of advance-care directives?
Finish your letter by thanking the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for their consideration. A little kindness goes a long way.