Premier wants presumed consent system for Sask. organ donations
Provincial report recommends keeping the opt-in system
Premier Brad Wall says the Saskatchewan government wants to move towards an organ donation system that would require individuals to opt out of being a donor, going against the recommendation of a recent provincial report.
Under the current system, adults who want to be organ donors have to opt in by marking themselves as a donor on their health services card.
The donor and a family member both need to provide signed consent.
On Monday, the government's Standing Committee on Human Services released its report into improving organ donation rates in Saskatchewan.
Opt-in system should continue, says report
One of its 10 recommendations urged the government to continue using the opt-in system.
"Your committee understands that a presumed consent system for organ and tissue donation has not been implemented in any jurisdiction in Canada," says the report.
"And that implementation of such a system would likely be challenged in the courts."
It suggested investing in education for the public and school children, and training health professionals who could identify potential donors and approach families to gain consent.
Instead of pursuing presumed consent, the committee recommended creating a registry, through which SGI would collect information from those who intend to donate. That information would be accessible to health care professionals.
But Brad Wall told reporters at the legislature on Tuesday the government still wants to work towards a system that presumes a person has given consent unless they indicate otherwise.
"As a government we're thinking we'd like to move towards presumed consent," said Wall.
"This committee is going to make recommendations but there might be other initiatives that we want to look at that aren't part of the recommendations."
But NDP Health Critic Danielle Chartier, who was part of the standing committee that prepared the report, said there was no evidence to suggest presumed consent increased donations.
"We would be the only jurisdiction in Canada using presumed consent but that doesn't mean it's going to work," said Chartier.
"Evidence elsewhere shows that it doesn't."
Donor physicians a 'linchpin', says Chartier
She said other countries that had successfully increased their organ donation rates, like Spain, had introduced other measures as well as presumed consent.
Those included the education and training of "donor physicians", who would advocate for donations and develop programs related to organ donation, as well as educating frontline staff.
"Spain still has presumed consent but that is not the thing that has increased their donor rates and we heard that loud and clear," said Chartier.
"I can't emphasize enough the need for donor physicians as the linchpin of a high-functioning system."
With files from Stefani Langenegger