Know your Rights

The Health Care Consent Act is an important piece of legislation that ensures your rights as a medical patient are protected. It's meant to protect you from abuse and violations of your human rights, dignity, autonomy, and consent.

When the patient is “capable”, it means that they are able to understand the information given to them about the treatment offered, and they can appreciate the possible consequences of the decision (or no decision) that they make.

This law states that no treatment shall be given to a capable person without their consent. Consent means that the individual understands what is being offered to them and agrees with the treatment.

  1. The consent must relate to the treatment
  2. The consent must be informed. A patient must be given more information if they ask
  3. The consent must be given voluntarily
  4. The consent must not be obtained through misrepresentation or fraud

Consent may be withdrawn at any time. This means you can change your mind at any point for any reason. You cannot be threatened with Children’s Aid Society or a “dead baby”, or any other form of harassment for not agreeing with a suggested treatment.

If the individual is not capable of giving consent, then a recognised substitute decision-maker will be asked for consent. This may be the individual’s partner, family member, or the parent or guardian if the patient is a minor.

In order for the consent to be considered informed, it must first meet these criteria:

  1. The person received the information that a reasonable person in the same circumstances would require in order to make a decision about the treatment
  2. The person received responses to their requests for additional information
  3. The information included:
    • The nature of the treatment
    • The expected benefits of the treatment
    • The material side effects of the treatment
    • The likely consequences of not having the treatment

Further, the Canadian Patient Bill of Rights states that persons have: 

  1. The right to be fully informed about their medical condition and the available treatment options
  2. The right to be involved in treatment decisions
  3. The right to information on the qualifications & experience of their health care providers
  4. The right to receive considerate, compassionate, and respectful services
  5. The right to confidential communication with health professionals
  6. The right to have access to copies of personal health records and to have them corrected, if necessary

Your rights to respectful care are entrenched in law. Any abuse you suffer that leaves you feeling more like it was birth rape than welcoming your precious child can be reported to the appropriate agencies.

Doctor's stethoscope and judge's gavel

Doctor's stethoscope and judge's gavel