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Corrections watchdog urges moratorium on doctor-assisted deaths in Canadian prisons

Last Updated Oct 27, 2020 at 1:08 pm EST

Correctional Investigator of Canada, Dr. Ivan Zinger is seen during a news conference discussing his latest report Tuesday February 18, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA — Canada’s prison ombudsman says Ottawa must put a moratorium on allowing medical assistance in dying inside federal correctional institutions, no matter the circumstances.

Federal correctional investigator Ivan Zinger says there are three known cases of doctor-assisted death in federal prisons and each raises questions around consent, choice and dignity.

In his 2019-20 annual report released today, Zinger says his office found a series of errors and delays and the misapplication of law and policy in the two cases it reviewed.

He says the government should set up an expert committee to consider the ethical and practical concerns in providing medically assisted death in prisons and suggest policy and law changes.

The report also looked at sexual violence in federal prisons and concluded that it as a pervasive but under-reported problem.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the investigator’s report raises important issues and recommendations regarding education, training and safety in federal correctional institutions.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2020

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press