Dr. Philip Hébert Presents at Markham Stouffville Hospital

Philip H├ębert

By: The Rev. Donald Shields, Coordinator of Spiritual & Religious Care, Chair of the Ethics Committee


On March 3, 2015, Markham Stouffville Hospital hosted Dr. Philip Hébert who presented at Ethics Grand Rounds. The occasion was in celebration of National Health Ethics Week 2015. Dr. Hébert used the occasion to speak on the ethical implications of the Supreme Court of Canada ruling in the Carter versus Canada decision. It was recognized that the landscape of medicine will change with the imminent legalization of physician assisted death/suicide. The event was attended by many members of the interdisciplinary team and was also available on OTN to nine external sites.


Dr. Hébert walked participants through the events that lead to the decision and used data from constituencies that have passed similar laws to show that those who might request such an option are in a very small percentile. He also demonstrated how the slippery slope argument isn't confirmed by the data of places that have physician assisted death.


Using case studies which elicited much discussion, Dr. Hébert helped those present to explore their feelings around physician assisted death and its ethical implications especially in areas such as mental health, early diagnosis of a terminal illness, and end-of-life care.


As anticipated, such an event generated more questions than answers demonstrating the need for continued discussions as February 2016 rapidly approaches, when the Supreme Court of Canada decision takes effect.