The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba released a draft document on Thursday outlining regulations for physician-assisted dying.

The organization that governs medical doctors in the province began creating the document after a February 2015 Supreme Court of Canada decision. It ruled physicians can legally assist patients with ending their life in certain circumstances beginning February 6, 2016.

Dr. Anna Ziomek, the college’s registrar, said she would have preferred if the federal government had stepped in to draft new legislation, but it does not appear likely that will happen prior to the deadline.

“This isn’t about whether or not the CPSM agrees with physician assisted dying,” said Dr. Ziomek. “It’s about CPSM fulfilling its statutory obligation to protect the public by ensuring that there are appropriate standards/requirements of Manitoba physicians in place when physician assisted dying is no longer illegal.”

The group that came up with the draft document was comprised of physicians from a number of different areas of practice including palliative care, family care and emergency medicine, a medical resident, a member of the general public and administrators.

According to Dr. Ziomek, the group had a number of differing opinions on the issue including some who were very supportive of physician assisted dying and others who were strongly opposed.

Prior to the draft document being released, some doctors in Manitoba had expressed concern to CTV News that the framework would not allow them to decline a request from a patient.

The doctors said they object to physician assisted dying on moral and/or religious grounds.

Dr. Ziomek said the working group took great care to balance the rights of patients with doctors who object.

The draft document spells out what a doctor can do when a patient requests physician assisted dying if the doctor objects to the practice on religious or moral grounds.

In those circumstances, the doctor is not required to perform the procedure or refer the patient to another doctor who will.

The doctor is required to disclose their objection and refer the patient to an agency or resource that can provide information on the issue of physician assisted dying.

The doctor is not allowed to stop treating the patient until another physician has been found to take over care.

The framework also spells out the circumstances in which a patient is eligible for physician assisted dying.

At least two physicians must be involved and be satisfied the patient meets the criteria.

The patient must be 18 or older and have a grievous and irremediable medical condition which has been verified by a clinical diagnosis.

There must be no medical treatment options that could cure the condition or alleviate the associated symptoms which make it grievous.

Draft statement from The College of Physicians and Surgeons