In BC, the law says:
- you're a child (or a minor) until you're 19 years old, but
- you can consent (agree) to your own medical care if you're "capable."
The law says you're capable if you understand:
- why you need medical treatment,
- what the treatment involves,
- the benefits and risks of getting the treatment, and
- the benefits and risks of not getting the treatment.
A doctor or another healthcare provider can treat you without getting permission from your parents or guardians if they:
- explain all these things, and
- decide you understand them.
You might have to sign a consent form.
There's no set age to say when you're capable. Doctors have to use their best judgment. They'll look at:
- how mature you are, and
- how serious the medical treatment is.
If you're capable, you can usually get medical treatment without your parents' or guardians' consent for things like:
- birth control
- mental health problems
- sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- alcohol and drug addiction
And a doctor or healthcare provider can't talk to your parents or guardians about your medical care unless you agree.
Talk to them right away about how to protect your privacy if:
- you're under 19, and
- you want your doctor to keep your medical information confidential (private).
If a doctor believes you're being abused or that you might harm yourself or others, they have a legal duty to take steps to protect you by reporting this to the child protection authorities or following mental health laws.