This article was published by Advocate Daily on March 30, 2015.
Top British Columbia courts have made it clear that oral nutrition should not be considered health care or medical treatment and instead be seen as basic personal care and support. But, how the directive will be applied and enforced across Canada remains to be seen, says Toronto health and human rights lawyer Hugh Scher.
In Bentley v. Maplewood Seniors Care Society 2015 BCCA 91, the British Columbia Court of Appeal dismissed a request from the family of an 83-year-old woman that their mother no longer be given nourishment or liquids by staff members at the nursing home where she resides.
Justice Mary Newbury agreed with a lower court judge, ruling that the woman, who has advanced Alzheimer’s disease, is exercising her consent when she opens her mouth to accept food and water, despite her family’s position that it was her wish while she was mentally capable that she not be fed in her current condition.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition – BC, represented by Scher and Geoff Cowper QC, were intervenors in the case at trial and on appeal.