Christine Penney RN, MPA, PhD is CRNBC’s Deputy Registrar and Chief Officer, Policy, Practice & Quality Assurance.

Christine Penney testifies to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on May 10, 2016.

Christine Penney testifies to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on May 10, 2016.

When I became a nurse, Parliament Hill was the furthest thing from my mind. My career has been dedicated to improving the health system, but I never assumed that work would include testifying to the Senate!  Nevertheless, that’s where I found myself on May 10, when I presented on behalf of the college to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on Assisted Dying (Bill C-14).

The process to get MAiD legislation and regulation in place by the June 6 deadline set by the Supreme Court has been a frenetic one, with everyone working at high speed. This invitation was no different, and with two days’ notice—in the middle of moving house—I was boarding a plane to Ottawa, with the proverbial ink still drying on a report detailing our recommendations to the committee.

You can read our full submission on the CRNBC website, but here is a brief summary of our recommendations, which focused on regulatory supports for inter-professional collaboration and Quality Assurance mechanisms.

Regulatory supports for inter-professional collaboration
We recommended that the legislation:
• Addresses the collaboration and shared decision-making for patients, health practitioners and family members.
• Clarify the role of the physician and nurse practitioner related to determining a patient’s eligibility requirements
• Clarify that only a physician or nurse practitioner may personally administer MAiD substances.
• Emphasizes the notable distinction between MAiD and palliative care.
• Does not address the issue of conscientious objection, as this subject falls squarely within the jurisdiction of professional colleges.

Quality Assurance mechanisms
We recommended that the legislation be drafted to:
• Require provincial-level protocols and forms that standardize the care pathways and outline the roles of all providers
• Establish provincial and federal data collection, monitoring and reporting requirements for the purpose of issue trending, ongoing improvement and program evaluation.

As Canada moves forward with this important social policy, it has been an opportunity to learn from other countries who have gone before, while at the same time establishing a path that’s uniquely Canadian.  At this time of social change, it’s a great privilege, that CRNBC who regulates British Columbia’s nurses and nurse practitioners in the public interest, was invited to add a voice on the best approaches to MAiD for public protection.