You may have heard about a Representation Agreement before, which is a key legal document that a person in British Columbia needs to plan for their own personal health care.
A Representation Agreement is a legally enforceable document that can be used if you are not able to speak for yourself. If you are unconscious or incapable to consent or refuse certain medical treatment, this agreement will be critical to ensure that your trusted friend or family member can legally make those decisions for you or honour your express wishes.
There are several interrelated laws and regulations that clarify the rights of the elderly and others in long term care. These statutes include the Representation Agreement Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 405; the Adult Guardianship Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 6; the Health Care (Consent) and Care Facility (Admission) Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 181 (the “HCCCFA Act“); the Public Guardian and Trustee Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 383; the Community Care and Assisted Living Act, S.B.C. 2002, c. 75 and regulations thereto; the Continuing Care Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 70; and the Health Authorities Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 180.
Our courts in British Columbia have made it clear that persons who wish to make provision for their care and decision-making should not only record these wishes clearly, but also obtain legal advice as to what exactly can be accomplished by representation agreements, advance directives and related appointments.
In British Columbia, a Representation Agreement is the only way to authorize someone to assist you or to act on your behalf for health care and personal care matters. An enhanced Representation Agreement under section 9 of the Representation Agreement Act can be as broad or detailed as the person wishes it to be.
WITHOUT A REPRESENTATION AGREEMENT
You may be surprised to learn that if you do not have a Representation Agreement in place and you are incapable of providing your consent or refusal to medical treatment, your spouse or children will not be entitled to act on your behalf for health care matters.
Under the Health Care (Consent) and Care Facility (Admission) Act, if an adult does not have a Representation Agreement, a health care provider such as a social worker or other person authorized under the Act will be capable to make decisions for you despite what your family may think is in your best interests.
We strongly urge that all persons should obtain legal advice and prepare a Representation Agreement to plan for their health care and personal care matters. Our experienced lawyers can assist you with this and any other wills and estates planning matters.
Michele Chow is an Associate at DBM Law in the Tri-Cities area.