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Saying "yes" to treatment is called consent. Saying "no" to treatment is called refusal.

A decision about treatment is only made after a discussion between the client, family and health-care team, and all questions have been answered.

Ontario law (called the “Health Care Consent Act”) helps people and families to make treatment decisions. A person is capable to decide about his/her own treatment if he/she is:

  1. able to understand the information needed to make the decision, and
  2. able to appreciate the harms, benefits and outcomes of having or not having the treatment

In Ontario, there is no special age when a person is allowed to make health-care decisions for him/herself. When a child is a baby or very young, the family makes the decisions on the child’s behalf. As a child becomes older, he/she is often better able to understand the benefits, outcomes and possible harms. So, with help from his/her family and health-care team, the child is able to make more medical decisions. Also, a child may be able to make more simple decisions, for example a 10-year-old child might be capable to decide to have a splint put on a leg, but may not be capable to decide about surgery.

In an emergency, medical help is needed right away. The health-care team may start treatment before getting consent. This happens only if waiting is dangerous to your child’s life.