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Project Overview and Status
The Law Commission of Ontario’s Last Stages of Life project considers how the law shapes the rights, choices, and quality of life for persons who are dying and those who support them. The “last stages of life” is an adopted term that gives the project scope to look at legal issues arising in relation to palliative care, end-of-life care, and medical assistance in dying in Ontario.
The goal of the project is to develop authoritative law reform recommendations based on extensive province-wide consultations and additional advice from an external expert Advisory Committee. The LCO has also developed a distinct process and Advisory Group to engage with Inuit, Métis, and First Nation members in Ontario.
The LCO is currently reviewing the results of our provincial consultation process and formulating draft law reform recommendations. These will be reviewed with key informants over the spring and summer 2020, leading up to the release of a Final Report in Spring 2021. Should you have any questions contact Ryan Fritsch, Project Lead, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What issues are being looked at?
LCO’s consultations heard how the law directly shapes the experience of people in several critical areas that arise in the last stages of life. Each of these are summarized in the LCO’s Consultation Issues Map and brief Issue Backgrounders covering each of the major discussion issues, which include:
- caregiver and family supports
- withholding and withdrawing treatment
- resolving healthcare disputes
- consent and advance care planning
- transitions in care
- palliative sedation
- medical assistance in dying
- planned deaths at home
- access for communities with unmet needs, including inmates; persons with HIV; faith and spiritual communities; homeless and underhoused; and others
- cultural and religious needs
- supports for professionals and practice tools
- public health approach
Project Reports and Documents
LCO’s public consultations were conducted between May 2017 to September 2018 and included 73 consultation sessions involving over 800 Ontarians (see below for a detailed list of project milestones). A detailed exploration of the legal issues was provided in an Executive Summary and Discussion Paper. We also summarized these issues in a Consultation Issues Map and brief Issue Backgrounders covering each of the major discussion issues. The LCO additionally published seven research papers commissioned from external experts across Canada (see below for links to each of these).
The LCO established a distinct process and materials to engage with Inuit, Métis, and First Nation members in Ontario. The first phase of that engagement took place with visits to, and conversations with, over a dozen communities and groups between January and June 2019.
- Dr. Arne Stinchcombe, Dr. Katherine Kortes-Miller & Dr. Kimberley Wilson: Perspectives on the final stages of life from LGBT elders living in Ontario
- Dr. Mary Chiu, Dr. Adrian Grek, Sonia Meerai, LJ Nelles, Dr. Joel Sadavoy & Dr. Virginia Wesson: Understanding the lived experience of individuals, caregivers and families touched by frailty, chronic illness and dementia in Ontario
- Dr. Donna Wilson & Dr. Stephen Birch: Improved care setting transitions in the last year of life
- Judith A. Wahl, Mary Jane Dykeman, Tara Walton: Health Care Consent, Advance Care Planning, and Goals of Care Practice Tools: The Challenge to Get it Right
- Rosario G. Cartagena, Alison K. Thompson, Kaveh Katebian, Trudo Lemmens, Rose Geist, Harvey Schipper, Sandy Buchman, Heesoo Kim, Mark Handelman: Understanding the Relationship between Suffering and Capacity at the End-Of-Life: A Pilot Study
- James Downar, Laura Hawryluck, Alexi Wood, Susan Brown, Joy Richards, Robert Sibbald, Jennifer Gibson, & Csilla Kalocsai: Balancing The Interests Of Patients, Substitute Decision-Makers, Family And Health Care Providers In Decision-Making Over The Withdrawal And Withholding Of Life-Sustaining Treatment
- Omar Ha-Redeye, Ruby Latif, & Kashif Pirzada: Integrating Religious and Cultural Supports into Quality Care in the Last Stages of Life in Ontario