Approximately 1000 psychiatrists gathered in Vancouver in Oct 2015 for the Canadian Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting. A wide range of sessions addressed topics of interest to trainees and practising psychiatrists. The Distinguished Member Lecture by Dr Elliot Goldner asked “What Will Improve the Mental Health of Canadians?” Over 300 people attended a plenary session by Kidnap Victim Amanda Lindhout who spoke about “Freedom in Forgiveness”
A family physician who provides palliative care (Denise Marshall), a critical care and palliative care internist (James Downar) and a psychiatrist who co-chairs the Professional Advisory Committee of Dying with Dignity (Derryck Smith) discussed issues pertaining to the 2015 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that physician-assisted death is the right of every mentally competent Canadian who is enduring intolerable suffering. As legal, regulatory and health professional experts try to understand now this will effect practice in 2016, this session was of special interest to psychiatrists who will likely be included in capacity assessment for physician-assisted death. The session included practical considerations, ethical and moral aspects and broad reflections on existential issues such as suffering and attitudes toward death.
Donna Stewart CM, MD, FRCPC
WPA Zone I Representative