Physician-Assisted Dying

Physician-Assisted Dying

What is the Carter Decision?

As many of you are aware, on February 6th, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the law prohibiting physician-assisted dying for competent adults who have a grievous and irremediable medical condition that causes enduring suffering.  The decision was to come into effect on February 6th, 2016.  In January the Attorney General of Canada applied for a six-month extension.  A four-month extension was granted and the decision will come into effect June 6th, 2016.  In the interim, an individual seeking physician-assisted death may apply for a court order in Superior Court in their jurisdiction.


What does this decision mean for practicing RNs and NPs?

The Carter decision is silent on the role of nurses and other health professionals on physician-assisted dying.  As a result, nurses do not currently have protection under the criminal code.  Until legislation is in place that protects nurses, you may not provide information or answer questions about assisted death to your patients/clients or their families.  If you are asked to participate/assist with physician-assisted death during the interim period of February 6th, 2016 to June 6th, 2016, you should contact RNANT/NU @ 1-867-873-2745 or email .  If a patient or family member requests information, refer them to their physician and document.


What is currently happening?

After the February 6th, 2015 decision, a Provincial-Territorial Expert Advisory Group on Physician-Assisted Dying was established by 11 provinces and territories.  The purpose of the group was to advise on the development of policies, practices and safeguards for jurisdictions to consider when physician-assisted dying is implemented.  The advisory group’s final report was released December, 2015.  The pdf version of the full report can be found below.  The Government of the Northwest Territories requested feedback on the recommendations in the report from stakeholders.  RNANT/NU responded to this request.

The federal government commissioned the External Panel on Options for Legislative Response to consult Canadians and key stakeholders to inform the government’s response to the Supreme Court’s decision.  Written briefs were submitted by the Canadian Nurses Association and the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association.  The Canadian Nurses Protective Society made a written and oral submission to the Panel, which was supported in writing by RNANT/NU.

RNANT/NU will continue to work collaboratively and will provide you with updates as they become available.


Provincial-Territory Expert Advisory Group on Physician Assisted Final Report

Nunavut and NWT Primary Care Nurse Survey

The Registered Nurses Association of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut wishes to inform you of a proposed survey of primary care nurses in Nunavut and NWT and seek your cooperation in participating in the survey.

This survey aims to obtain the opinions of nurses in Nunavut and NWT regarding primary care services in the communities and their linkages with regional centres in the territories and beyond. It focuses on the clinical support and guidance provided to the nurses and the responsiveness of the air ambulance system.

The survey is part of a 5-year research program on primary health care funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and led by Dr. Kue Young of the School of Public Health, University of Alberta, and supported by the Departments of Health of Nunavut and NWT. A similar survey of nurses in NWT was conducted earlier in 2015 which identified several problems. An improved survey questionnaire has been designed, and can be accessed at . A more detailed information sheet and a consent form is also included in the link. Even if you choose not to participate, please take the time to answer Q1 and Q2 so that we can determine the refusal rate.

RNANT/NU is an active partner in this project and urges you to take part in this survey. It should not take more than 30 minutes of your time. The information collected will be very useful to our organization in identifying challenges faced by our members, available practice supports and if our members work to their full scope of practice.

RNANT/NU is accepting Public Representative applications for our Professional Conduct Committee

RNANT/NU is accepting applications for Public Representatives from the Northwest Territories and Nunavut for our Professional Conduct Committee for a three-year term.

RNANT/NU was established by the Nursing Profession Act as the regulatory and professional body for registered nurses in the Northwest Territories (NT). The role of a Public Representative is to ensure the Association acts in the public interest.

Applicants must be a resident of either Northwest Territories or Nunavut and cannot be a member of a health profession or employed by an organization in the health sector.  Additional criteria for Public Representatives and the Committee Terms of Reference are available below.  Interested candidates are asked to forward a letter of interest and a copy of their latest resume to:

Executive Director, RNANT/NU

PO Box 2757 Yellowknife, NT, X1A 2R1

Fax 867-873-2336

Terms of Reference PCC

Criteria for PCR Public Reps (Feb 2016)




Breaking New Ground for Canada’s Clinical Nurse Specialists – Are you interested in joining a National Network of Canadian Nurse Specialists?

In June 2014, Pan-Canadian Core Competencies for the Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) was launched at the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) biennial meeting, setting the foundation upon which academia could formally build a unified CNS curriculum. This publication would empower CNSs, as recognized advanced practice nurses, to move toward a designated protected title, similar to our nurse practitioner colleagues. In collaboration with and support from CNA, a group of CNS volunteers formed a steering committee in the spring of 2015 to develop an association that will provide a cohesive national strategy to support these goals.

On November 5 and 6, 2015, CNA brought together CNS representatives from across Canada to help build and formalize the structure for a new sustainable, not-for-profit organization that will represent CNSs nationally.

Background: Historically, the CNS role has been interpreted by employers, educators and nurses in a variety of ways. Yet this variation also hindered the understanding and value of who the CNS is and what the CNS does. It was to address this lack of clarity, in fact, that CNA facilitated the development of the pan-Canadian core competencies for the CNS. After its publication in 2014, the challenge then arose as to how to infuse these competencies into all health authorities, educational programs and health-care environments to ensure a common understanding and recognition of CNSs’ value.

Work to date: After two days of discussion and a sharing of its goals and vision, the CNS steering committee chose a name and finalized the mission for this emerging national CNS association. The name of the association is not yet confirmed, as a legal name search must still be completed.

Mission: The national CNS association provides a leadership platform through which Canadian CNSs influence cost-effective health-care system change to support safe, quality care and superior outcomes.
Vision: The CNS is an essential component of a sustainable health-care system. The vision was developed with the goal that Canadians will understand the importance of the CNS in the improvement of safety and health outcomes.

Governance: To prepare for the establishment of this new not-for-profit organization, the steering committee learned about the Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act and the articles of incorporation necessary to ensure that legal and financial implications are within the general framework required by law. As part of this conversation, the committee established membership criteria and drafted the organization’s bylaws and constitution.

Next steps: The CNS steering committee is now working on securing the name of the association, investigating a location for a central office, developing a draft budget, developing an operational policy and establishing financial safeguards, including establishing bank accounts. Upcoming activities include submitting a grant application to CNA for startup funds and an application to CNA’s Canadian Network of Nursing Specialties to be considered an emerging group. In order to adequately represent the vast country and territories, we are planning to establish regional representation on the board. The regions will be aligned as follows: Atlantic Region, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba/Saskatchewan/Nunavut, Alberta/N.W.T., and B.C./Yukon. Additionally, a communication strategy that includes the creation of a website and various social media channels are future goals.

How can you help? Please distribute this information to all your CNS networks. We would like to create a groundswell of interest. Then watch for updates in Canadian Nurse and from your representatives. We will also be looking for income sources to support this association. If you have ideas, connections or experience that will help launch the association, please share with your CNS provincial representative(s). The collective experience and knowledge of Canadian CNSs will make this association vibrant and successful. We need to partner with educators, employers and established CNS groups.

Please plan to become a member once the new association has launched.

Stay tuned and in touch with your current national CNS steering committee representative:

Contact Information

For the Northwest Territories:  Heather Richardson ( or
Tanya Spence (

For Nunavut:  Asha Pereira ( or
Tamara Wells (


Amendments have been made to the following bylaws:
• Bylaw 2 Registration
• Bylaw 5 Professional Conduct
The following new Bylaws have been written:
• Bylaw 22 Nursing and Nurse Practitioner Registers
• Bylaw 23 Public Register
• Bylaw 24 Release of Information

The RNANT/NU Board of Directors approved the amended and new bylaws on January 18th, 2016. A ratification vote will be held at the 2016 Annual General Meeting. The above bylaws can be found on the Bylaws and Policies page on this website. To vote on these amendments you must be a voting delegate.

2016 Award of Excellence in Nursing

Do you know a nurse that deserves special recognition?

We encourage everyone, including community members, healthcare staff, and supervisors, to submit nominations by email or fax no later than 4:00 pm EST, on Friday, February 19th, 2016 to:

Carole MacGillivray

Learning, Awards and Recognition Coordinator
Internal Client Services Directorate
First Nations and Inuit Health Branch
Health Canada
Jeanne Mance Building
A.L. 1916B, Room 1621B
200 Eglantine Driveway
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0K9
Tel: (613) 302-7975
Fax: (613) 948-2110


Click here to view the 2016 Annual Award of Excellence in Nursing Call for Nominations

Click here to view the 2016 Award of Excellence in Nursing Nomination Form