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What are Patient Rights?

Patient rights are those basic rules of conduct between patients and medical caregivers.

A patient is anyone who has requested to be evaluated by or who is being evaluated by any healthcare professional.

People don’t always know that they have rights within the Canadian healthcare system, let alone what those rights are.

Patients in Canada have the right to the following:


To receive appropriate and timely care

  1. To be treated with dignity and respect

  2. To receive health services without discrimination

  3. To have their personal and health information protected from disclosure

  4. To have access to their health information unless, in the opinion of a relevant health professional, the disclosure could result in immediate and grave harm to the patient’s health or safety

  5. To refuse consent to any proposed treatment

  6. To receive information relating to any proposed treatment and options

  7. To the recognition of your Representative or Substitute Decision-maker

  8. To the recognition of your Advance Directive

  9. To a second opinion

  10. To pain and symptom management

Each province has its own unique documented Patient Rights.

Health Care Consent and Care Facility Admission Act

[RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 181


Part 2 — Consent to Health Care

Consent rights

4  Every adult who is capable of giving or refusing consent to health care has

(a) the right to give consent or to refuse consent on any grounds, including moral or religious grounds, even if the refusal will result in death,

(b) the right to select a particular form of available health care on any grounds, including moral or religious grounds,

(c) the right to revoke consent,

(d) the right to expect that a decision to give, refuse or revoke consent will be respected, and

(e) the right to be involved to the greatest degree possible in all case planning and decision making.

General rule — consent needed

5  (1) A health care provider must not provide any health care to an adult without the adult's consent except under sections 11 to 15.

(2) A health care provider must not seek a decision about whether to give or refuse substitute consent to health care under section 11, 14 or 15 unless he or she has made every reasonable effort to obtain a decision from the adult.

Elements of consent

6  An adult consents to health care if

(a) the consent relates to the proposed health care,

(b) the consent is given voluntarily,

(c) the consent is not obtained by fraud or misrepresentation,

(d) the adult is capable of making a decision about whether to give or refuse consent to the proposed health care,

(e) the health care provider gives the adult the information a reasonable person would require to understand the proposed health care and to make a decision, including information about

(i)   the condition for which the health care is proposed,

(ii)   the nature of the proposed health care,

(iii)   the risks and benefits of the proposed health care that a reasonable person would expect to be told about, and

(iv)   alternative courses of health care, and

(f) the adult has an opportunity to ask questions and receive answers about the proposed health care.

C-261 Canadian Patients' Bill of Rights

Whereas Canadians believe that the health care system has the highest priority among public services;


Whereas the objective of the Canadian health care system is to provide a universal, accessible, comprehensive and portable system in which patients have confidence;


Whereas major changes to the Canadian health care policy should be by legislation after public debate;

Whereas to establish a high level of confidence in the doctor-patient relationship, patients must be informed respecting their health options, treatment decisions and records;

And Whereas patients must be guaranteed rights respecting health information, involvement in treatment decisions and in access to and the confidentiality of their health records;

Now, Therefore Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

1. This Act may be cited as the Patients' Bill of Rights.


Rights respecting the public health system


3. All Canadians have the right to national collaboration between governments to assure


(a) a good quality, dependable and accessible national system of health care;


(b) a system of health care that is transferable and generally uniform across Canada;


(c) the minimum amount of overlap and duplication in public health services between different governments;

(d) consistency in development of public health services between different governments resulting in consistency in the timing of development of services and innovation; and

(e) regular consultation with the public respecting public health services in a forum that is public, open and gives a reasonable opportunity to present views to representatives of government, the House of Commons or a legislative assembly and the medical profession.


Patients personal rights


4. All patients have the following personal rights:


(a) the right to be fully informed as to their medical condition;

(b) the right to be advised of the treatment options that are available to them;

(c) the right to be involved in the decision as to which treatment to receive;


(d) the right to information on the qualifications and experience of the health professionals from whom they receive services;

(e) the right to receive considerate, compassionate and respectful public health services;

(f) the right to communicate with health professionals in confidence;

(g) the right to have access to all health records that relate to them, to have copies of such records and to have them corrected if they are shown to be incorrect;

(h) the right to have their health records maintained in confidence and not used for any purpose other than the provision to them of public health services unless pursuant to informed and formal, written consent, which may not be implied or imputed;


(i) the right to designate a person to exercise their rights on their behalf if they are not able to do so as a result of a physical or mental incapacity; and


(j) the right to be informed of all rights and responsibilities they have under this Act and under other laws of Canada or a province with respect to public health services.


Patients personal responsibilities


5. All patients have the following responsibilities:

(a) the responsibility to provide health professionals who are rendering public health services to them with full and accurate information relating to their health and the public health services they have received;

(b) the responsibility to cooperate with health professionals who are rendering public health services to them and either to follow their reasonable instructions and advice respecting the public health services and behaviour that relates to health or to advise the professionals when they have not done so; and


(c) the responsibility to exercise due economy in their use of public health services.


Agreements with provinces


6. (1) The Minister shall consult with the provinces with the objective of making an agreement with each province to protect the rights and promote the responsibilities described in sections 3 to 5.


Report to Parliament


(2) The Minister shall report to Parliament from time to time and no less than once a year on progress made with respect to the agreements made under subsection (1).




7. Section 19 of the Federal Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (1):



Patients' rights


(1.1) In order that a province may qualify for the full cash contribution referred to in sections 14 and 15 for a fiscal year, the province must conclude with the Minister of Health an agreement relating to patients' rights pursuant to section 6 of the Patients' Bill of Rights.

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