August 19, 2014 12:46 pm

Doctors debate end-of-life care at CMA meeting

Hollis Johnson, left, and his wife Lee Carter leave the B.C. Court of Appeal after the court reversed a lower court ruling that said Canada's assisted-suicide ban violated the charter rights of gravely ill Canadians, in Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday October 10, 2013.

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – End-of-life care is a hot topic of discussion today at the annual conference of the Canadian Medical Association.

Long lines of physicians and palliative-care experts queued up to share their own experiences and opinions about how end-of-life conditions for ailing Canadians should change as the population ages.

One rural doctor said family pets and farm animals that are dying are often treated in a more humane and dignified manner than their human owners at the end of life.

Another urged family physicians to start taking on palliative care, saying it shouldn’t be handed off to specialists as their longtime patients age and face life-threatening illnesses.

Others suggested some Canadians wouldn’t be clamouring for euthanasia and assisted suicide with such passion if Canada had a better standard of palliative care.

The session ended with CMA members voting overwhelmingly in favour of an advisory resolution that supports the right of all physicians, within the bonds of existing legislation, to follow their conscience when deciding whether to provide so-called “medical aid in dying.”

© 2014 The Canadian Press

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