EDMONTON — Alberta says it will not prosecute any physician or member of a health care team involved in a physician assisted death that falls within the scope of the Supreme Court of Canada's 2015 ruling on the issue.
The policy is spelled out in a directive from Alberta's Justice Department to police services in the province.
The directive says there is no reasonable likelihood of a conviction for charges under the Criminal Code for physicians or any other member of a health care team, including pharmacists.
"No prosecution will be commenced or continued against a physician (or a member of the health care team) that provides information regarding physician assisted death."
A link to the directive is posted on the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta website.
The directive says the provision for an assisted death must include the consent of a competent adult who has a grievous and irremedial medical condition that causes enduring intolerable suffering.
The province says the directive was drafted because Parliament did not replace legislation struck down by the Supreme Court by Monday's deadline.
No longer a crime
The directive says that means as of Monday, physician assisted death is no longer a crime under section 241 of the Criminal Code that deals with counselling or aiding suicide.
"No prosecution will be commenced or continued against a physician (or a member of the health care team) that provides information regarding physician assisted death, dispenses a drug, provides physician assisted death, or otherwise participates in a physician assisted death that falls within the parameters described by the Supreme Court of Canada in Carter 2015,'' reads the directive signed by Eric Tolppanen, assistant deputy minister of Alberta's Crown Prosecution Service.
The directive says all police are to contact Tolppanen before commencing an investigation if a complaint is made about a physician assisted death.
On Tuesday, organizations that regulate licensed practical nurses, registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses in Alberta posted a joint message to their members about the directive.
Directive will remain until legislation arrives
The nursing group says it has received a legal opinion that the directive provides an adequate level of protection for RNs, LPNs and RPNs involved with a physician assisted death.
The Alberta government directive says it will remain in effect until medical assistance in dying legislation comes into force.
Alberta Justice officials were not immediately available for comment.
Also on HuffPost:
Here's a look at the state of Euthanasia laws in Canada and their history.
Suicide hasn't been a crime in Canada since 1972. (Shutterstock)
Doctor-assisted suicide is illegal, although the ruling of the B.C. Supreme Court will force Parliament to alter the law within one year. The Criminal Code of Canada states in section 241 that: "Every one who (a) counsels a person to commit suicide, or (b) aids or abets a person to commit suicide, whether suicide ensues or not, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years." (Alamy)
Passive euthanasia involves letting a patient die instead of prolonging life with medical measures. Passive euthanasia is legal in Canada. The decision is left in the hands of family or a designated proxy. Written wishes, including those found in living wills, do not have to be followed by family or a proxy. (Alamy)
Sue Rodriguez, who suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease), launched a case asking the Supreme Court of Canada to allow her to end her own life on the grounds that the current law discriminated against her disability. Because suicide is legal in Canada and Rodriguez was unable to end her life because of a lack of mobility, she argued it was discriminatory to prevent her from ending her own life with the aid of another. The court refused her request in 1993, but one year later she ended her life anyway with the help of an unnamed doctor. (CP)
Robert Latimer was convicted of second-degree murder in the 1993 death of his severely disabled daughter Tracy. A lack of oxygen during Tracy's birth led to cerebral palsy and serious mental and physical disabilities, including seizures and the inability to walk or talk. Her father ended Tracy's life by placing her in his truck and connecting a hose to the vehicle's exhaust.The case led to a heated debate over euthanasia in Canada and two Supreme Court challenges. Latimer was granted day parole in 2008 and full parole in 2010. (CP)
Former Bloc Québécois MP Francine Lalonde tried repeatedly to get legislation legalizing euthanasia in Canada passed. Bill C-407 and Bill C-384 were both aimed at making assisted suicide legal. C-384 was defeated in the House 228 to 59, with many Bloc MPs and a handful of members from all other parties voting for the legislation. Tetraplegic Tory MP Steven Fletcher, pictured, made the following statement after C-384 was defeated: "I would like to be recorded as abstaining on this bill. The reason is I believe end of life issues need to be debated more in our country. I believe that life should be the first choice but not the only choice and that we have to ensure that resources and supports are provided to Canadians so that choice is free. I believe, when all is said and done, the individual is ultimately responsible. I want to make this decision for myself, and if I cannot, I want my family to make the decision. I believe most Canadians, or many Canadians, feel the same. As William Henley said in his poem Invictus, "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul."(CP)