Hospitals in New Brunswick will now accept same-sex partners as next of kin following the resolution of a human rights complaint.
The New Brunswick Human Rights Commission announced on Monday that the province's eight health authorities have agreed to comply with a patient's right to name the person of his or her choice as power of attorney.
Previously patients were only able to list a spouse or a close blood relative.
The agreement was reached as a resolution to a complaint filed with the commission by Fredericton resident Peter Papoulidis.
"It's one of those things that people probably assumed they can do anyways but like Mr. Papoulidis, they find out in the circumstances that things are not quite what they thought," said commission chair Gordon Porter.
Papoulidis alleged a regional health authority and the province had refused to recognize his same-sex, common-law spouse as his next of kin.
When Papoulidis's partner was admitted to the hospital, he was denied the right to be designated to make medical decisions for the other man, Porter said.
The settlement was reached through negotiations with the province's health authorities, Porter said.
"It's a great breakthrough," he said. "I think is a very good settlement not just for same-sex partners but for the entire populations."
Patients admitted to New Brunswick hospitals will now be able to designate any person of their choosing to make critical medical decisions for them if they are incapacitated.
"This policy change by the health authorities is an example of the broad impact that the conciliation of a human rights complaint can have," Porter said.