The rights and interests of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit in debates over deemed consent legislation for deceased organ donation in Canada: calls to action

Elsevier, Lancet Regional Health - Americas, Volume 18, February 2023
Tait C.L.

Nova Scotia, Canada is the first jurisdiction in North America to pass deemed consent legislation for organ donation. Individuals medically suitable to be deceased organ donors are considered to have authorised post-mortem organ removal for transplantation unless they opt out of the system. While governments do not have a legal duty to consult Indigenous nations before passing health legislation, this does not diminish Indigenous interests and rights in relation to the legislation. This analysis discusses impacts of the legislation, specifically intersectionality with Indigenous rights, trust in the healthcare system, transplant inequities, and distinctions-based health legislation. How governments engage Indigenous groups about the legislation is yet to unfold. Consultation with Indigenous leaders and engagement and education of Indigenous peoples is, however, key to moving forward legislation that respects Indigenous rights and interests. What happens in Canada is being watched globally, as deemed consent is debated as a solution to organ transplant shortages.