Annual Report 2016 - Page 3

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE Dr. Joel Kirsh, President 2016 I t was an honour to serve as President of the College in its 150th year of medical regulation. Although the College has been in existence for many years, the ac- tions taken in 2016 demonstrate that we continue to look for new and improved ways to ensure that we remain at the forefront of public protection. The year began with ensuring the provision of timely guidance to physicians and members of the public on the issue of medical assistance in dying (MAiD). In fact, in order to ensure the College could provide a timely and accurate guidance during a shifting legal landscape, three policy documents were produced. The final policy, which reflects federal legislation, was well-received by a number of organizations and commentators, with many describing the guidance as practical, clarifying, helpful and, most importantly, respect- ful of the patient experience. The policy emphasizes patient autonomy and dignity. It states that if a physician chooses to decline a patient’s request to assist in dying, the physician must provide an effective referral to another provider. This requirement became a flashpoint in the debate about physician responsi- bilities in assisted death, and would later prompt a court challenge. The College continues to vigor- ously defend this position. Patients seeking MAiD cannot be abandoned in their time of need. An effective referral does not guarantee a patient will receive MAiD, or signal that the referring physician endorses or supports the treatment. Rather, an effective referral ensures access to care and demonstrates respect for patient autonomy. Patients deserve no less, and this key policy stance is in keeping with the College’s duty to serve the public interest. The College continued with our initiative to ANNUAL REPORT 2016 3