Consent beyond the Hashtag

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Warning: This article is for general purposes only. For specific legal advice please consult your attorney.

Wiktionary defines consent as:

“To express willingness, to give permission.”

In the era of Me Too, so many people seem to have forgotten a basic concept about consent… It’s about more than just sex. What is the best part? It’s also for minors.

Beyond sex

Consent remains integral to our lives. We give consent when we eat a burger at McDonald’s or get an IV at the hospital. Sometimes a formal process is involved such as a parent signing a permission slip for their child to go on a field trip.

Wiktionary defines assault as:

“An act that causes someone to apprehend imminent bodily harm.”

A doctor who does surgery on you without your consent is committing assault. As is a nurse who gives you fluids in your IV without consent. Sometimes as in the second case consent is passive. You decide it’s ok and say nothing. Or you’re unconscious and the medical staff have to make that choice for you. The law allows for this.

In Canada, for medical purposes, with a few exceptions, most provinces have not set an age in law at which a minor consents to a medical procedure. The generally accepted age is 16. However, even below that age if a child can be shown to understand what the doctor is saying and the possible consequences of having a medical procedure (or not) their informed consent must, by common law, be obtained.

For an employer, this means they have to tread lightly with all employees, even those below the age of majority. Workers have the right to refuse unsafe work in Ontario. They have to consent, no matter what the task is. To do otherwise could risk injury to the employee and a giant fine for the employer. The onus is on the employer to explain the risks to the employee if there are any. Even a paper cut is a risk, albeit a small one.

Every day we encounter situations where we consent or we don’t. We eat that burger or we pick up a hammer and pound in that nail into the board. We balance the risks. However, that does put the onus on the person with the position of power from getting consent. In many cases, that’s the boss.

References

assault. (2019, April 9). Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Retrieved 17:46, April 19, 2019 from https://en.wiktionary.org/w/index.php?title=assault&oldid=52322351.

consent. (2019, March 24). Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Retrieved 16:23, April 19, 2019 from https://en.wiktionary.org/w/index.php?title=consent&oldid=52097289.

Knight, K. N. (2014, August 5). Consent of Minors to Medical Treatment. Retrieved April 19, 2019, from https://www.siskinds.com/consent-of-minors-to-medical-treatment/.

This article was written by J2DW CEO Peter V. Tretter and edited by volunteer editor Scott Jacobsen.