New Legal Basis for Health Care Decisions

It can be seen from the following discussion, that by naming a Representative in a Representation Agreement to direct your health-care decisions if you become incapacitated, you can be assured that the individual of your choice will act on your behalf. Otherwise, health care providers must follow a new Act that addresses health care which came into effect on February 28, 2000.

The general rule still is that you can be given health care only with your consent, unless emergency health care is required. In the event that you are unable to give consent to health care, such as if you are unconscious or mentally incapable, this new Health Care Act has established a set of procedures that health care providers must follow. There is now a ranked list of substitute decision makers that health care providers must go to when you are incapable of making decisions about your health. The ranked list goes as follows:

  • A Representative named in a Representation Agreement
  • The nearest relative in the following order: the adult’s spouse, parent, sibling, followed by anyone else related by birth or adoption

If a relative is to act, that person must be an adult, have been in contact with you in the preceding twelve months, have no dispute with you and be willing to take on the duties.

If there is no one from the above list that can act as a decision-maker, the Public Guardian and Trustee can authorize an individual, such as a friend, to make substitute decisions or the Public Guardian and Trustee can make the decisions. A “committee” can still be appointed through the courts and would rank ahead of all substitute decision makers.