Advance Care Planning (ACP) in Canada initiative, led by the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association released Living Well, Planning Well: resources to support the legal processes of Advance Care Planning in Canada.
Every province and territory in Canada has laws to help protect the right to do Advance Care Planning (ACP) and choose a Substitute Decision Maker (SDM) to speak on a person’s behalf if they cannot. Laurel L. Gillespie, Director Advance Care Planning in Canada says, “The laws vary between provinces and territories and the general public often lacks sufficient knowledge to successfully engage in ACP, and lawyers are often unsure of the different health care options that could be explored within their clients’ ACP”.
The ‘Speak Up’ Advance Care Planning in Canada initiative provides two complementary resources to support public navigation of the legal requirements and facilitate lawyers’ involvement in their clients’ ACP. Sharon Baxter, Executive Director Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association says, “With these two resources, the public has better access to plain language explanations of their rights and requirements in ACP, and lawyers have an aid for initiating ACP conversations with their clients, should they wish. Together, these resources enable more opportunities for people in Canada to exercise their rights to plan their future care”.
The “Living Well, Planning Well” legal toolkit was created by Speak Up and two legal firm partners: TorkinManes (Toronto, ON) and HarperGrey (Vancouver, BC). Its development was funded by Health Canada as part of a $1.9 million funded project over three years to help people living in Canada prepare for their future health care needs.
The legal toolkit is designed to help lawyers and their clients go through the process of ACP. The toolkit provides information about the importance of ACP and its role within future life planning in general (e.g., estates and wills, life insurance, investment planning). It also covers different scenarios, prompts, and precedent clauses that lawyers can use to start ACP conversations with their clients. This toolkit can help lawyers make a significant difference in their clients’ lives by encouraging them to reflect on and discuss their wishes, choose appropriate SDMs and alternates, and share their wishes with their SDMs and health care providers.
Speak Up and the BC Centre for Palliative Care developed a complementary “Living Well, Planning Well” resource for the public. A national Advisory Committee of legal professionals, health care providers, and patient and caregiver representatives supported its development. Funding for this resource was provided by the Canadian Bar Association’s Law for the Future Fund grant program.
This resource provides plain language summaries of the processes of health care consent, capacity, ACP, and substitute decision-making in Canada. It begins with an overview of the national legal norms around ACP, followed by short infographic summaries of the legal requirements for each province and territory (except for Nunavut, which does not have ACP legislation). It is relevant for anyone who is unfamiliar with their laws, may have moved recently to a new province/territory, or is concerned about having their ACP and SDM rights respected.
The “Living Well, Planning Well” legal toolkit and many other helpful resources and tools for patients, families, and health care providers are available on Advance Care Planning in Canada resource library at www.advancecareplanning.ca