What is Advance Care Planning in Ontario?

If you were in hospital too ill or hurt to speak for yourself, do you know who would make health care decisions for you? Do they know what you want?

In Ontario, Advance Care Planning involves two steps:

Step 1: Identifying who will make future health and personal care decisions for you if you are unable (mentally incapable) of making them yourself – this will be your Substitute Decision Maker.

In Ontario, there are two ways to identify your Substitute Decision Maker:

  1. Confirm your automatic future Substitute Decision Maker in the hierarchy (a ranking list in the law) OR
  2. Choosing someone else to act as Substitute Decision Maker by preparing a Power of Attorney for Personal Care (a formal written document)

Step 2: Sharing your wishes, values and beliefs through conversations with your Substitute Decision Maker (and others) to clarify your wishes, values and beliefs, and more generally how you would like to be cared for in the event you are unable (mentally incapable) of making health care decisions for yourself (i.e. what is quality of life to you? What is important to you with respect to your health?)

The laws related to Advance Care Planning and health care decision making are different across Canada. It is important to get your information from Ontario specific resources. For more information about Advance Care Planning in Ontario visit:


Waterloo Wellington’s own Advance Care Planning Program


Ontario’s Advance Care Planning website

Start your Advance Care Planning conversations today.