Thursday, May 16, 2019

Ontario Court Upholds Requirement That Objecting Doctors Refer Patients to Others

In Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada v. College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, (Ont. Ct. App., May 15, 2019), the Ontario Court of Appeal rejected a constitutional challenge to two policies of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.  At issue is the requirement that physicians who object to providing any medical procedure or pharmaceuticals on the basis of religion or conscience must refer the patient to a non-objecting, available and accessible physician, health care professional or agency.  Physicians challenging the policies claimed they infringe their freedom of conscience and religion under Sec. 2(a) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by requiring them to be complicit in procedures such as abortion or aid in dying that violate their religious beliefs. In a 74-page opinion, the court held while the policies infringe religious liberty, the infringement is justified under Sec. 1 of the Charter, because they are reasonable limits, demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. The Globe & Mail reports on the decision.