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Canadian Nurses Association leads the development of a national nursing framework on medical assistance in dying

Ottawa, January 23, 2017 — The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) today released its national nursing framework on medical assistance in dying (MAID). The framework outlines the role of nurses and nurse practitioners (NPs) and supports them in their practice when caring for patients who are considering end-of-life decisions. It also highlights the changes to the Criminal Code and other federal laws through Canada’s new MAID legislation, which permits MAID under certain circumstances.

Following the legislation’s passage in June 2016, CNA created a national task force to develop a guide to assist nurses and NPs in their end-of-life discussions with patients. As nurses play a central part in end-of-life care, the resulting framework outlines the roles and ethical obligations they must follow, while supplementing other CNA nursing resources on MAID.

“The federal MAID legislation shows a clear understanding and recognition of nurses’ roles as part of the interdisciplinary health-care team. This thoughtful and comprehensive framework will be a useful tool for nurses, employers and patients, as it clearly outlines the ethical expectations, responsibilities and limitations surrounding complex and sensitive end-of-life discussions with patients,” said CNA president Barb Shellian.

The framework describes the following ethical nursing values and responsibilities:

  • Providing safe, compassionate, competent and ethical care
  • Promoting health and well-being
  • Promoting and respecting informed decision-making
  • Preserving dignity
  • Maintaining privacy and confidentiality
  • Promoting justice
  • Being accountable

The framework also addresses the right to conscientious objection for nurses’ and NPs’ participation in MAID, which the legislation provides (though it still requires them to take all reasonable steps to ensure the quality and continuity of care for their patients).
As well, the framework offers nurses and NPs key considerations for a MAID pathway, as defined by federal law:

  1. Determining eligibility for MAID
  2. Ensuring safeguards are met
  3. Providing and aiding in MAID
  4. Filing information and reporting requirements

National Nursing Framework on Medical Assistance in Dying in Canada [PDF, 1.4 MB]

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The Canadian Nurses Association is the national professional voice representing over 139,000 registered nurses and nurse practitioners in Canada. CNA advances the practice and profession of nursing to improve health outcomes and strengthen Canada’s publicly funded, not-for-profit health system.

For more information, please contact:
Kevin Ménard
Communications Advisor
Canadian Nurses Association
Tel.: 613-237-2159, ext. 543
E-mail: kmenard@cna-aiic.ca