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Yukon working on guidelines for assisted dying

Yukon doctors and government officials are working to develop guidelines around assisted dying. As of Feb. 6, patients who wish to die with the assistance of a doctor will be able to apply to a superior court.

Territory coordinating with other jurisdictions for 'consistent system,' said Yukon Medical Council chair

'There would need to be a structure in place for doctors then to act,' said Robert Zimmerman, chair of the Yukon Medical Council. (CBC)

Yukon doctors and government officials are busy developing guidelines around assisted suicide, even as the deadline for federal legislation is pushed back.

On Friday, the Supreme Court of Canada granted the federal government a four-month extension to pass assisted dying legislation. The original target date was Feb. 6.

The court also ruled that those wishing to exercise their right to die with the help of a doctor can, as of Feb. 6, apply to a superior court in their home province or territory for "relief in accordance with the criteria" set out in the high court's ruling last February.

"There is a sense of urgency in getting things organized by February 6," said Robert Zimmerman, chair of the Yukon Medical Council. "There will need to be some regulatory guidelines in place."

Zimmerman said Yukon is working with other jurisdictions to ensure there is a "consistent system."

He said it's important that "everyone is really playing by the same rule book and guidelines, and not to make some jurisdictions extremely difficult and others more loose."

Quebec's ​assisted dying law came into effect on Dec. 10, 2015. Last week, a health official in that province confirmed that a patient died with the assistance of a doctor, in a Canadian legal first.

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