You could help shape Canada's assisted dying guidelines


The federal government could be following the lead of the Superior Court of Quebec, which has ruled that it is unconstitutional to limit people nearing death’s access to medical assistance in death (MAID).

The case was brought by two persons living with disabilities, Mr. Truchon, who has lived with cerebral palsy since birth, and Ms. Gladu, who has lived with paralysis and severe scoliosis as a result of poliomyelitis. Practitioners who assessed them were of the view that they met all eligibility criteria for MAID, with the exception of nearing the end of life. The Court declared the "reasonable foreseeability of natural death" criterion in the federal I as well as the "end-of-life" criterion in Quebec's provincial law on medical assistance in dying, to be unconstitutional.

The Court’s ruling, unless an extension is granted, will come into effect in March 2020—albeit only for Quebec. 

However, the federal government has accepted the ruling and has committed to leading an immediate and inclusive process to work with provinces and territories to respond to the recent court ruling regarding the medical assistance in dying framework. 

Additionally, the federal government announced the launch of public online consultations which will allow Canadians to provide their views on this very important issue directly to the Government of Canada.

Medical assistance in dying is a profoundly complex and personal issue for many Canadians across the country. It touches people and families facing some of the most difficult and painful times in their lives,” Lametti said in a news release.

Our Government has committed to updating Canada’s legislation on medical assistance in dying in response to the Superior Court of Quebec’s decision in Truchon v. Attorney General of Canada. We have a responsibility to do this in a way that is compassionate, balanced, and reflects Canadians’ views on this important issue.”

The consultations we are launching will allow us to hear directly from Canadians and guide the path forward,” he continued.

Medical assistance in dying became legal in Canada in June 2016. Canada's Criminal Code now exempts doctors and nurse practitioners who provide, or help to provide, medical assistance in dying.

"Medical assistance in dying" currently includes:

  • The use of medication by a physician or nurse practitioner to directly cause a person's death at their request.
  • The prescription or provision of medication by a physician or nurse practitioner that a person can use to cause their own death.

Since MAID has been legalized, more than 6,700 Canadians chose to die with the help of a physician or nurse practitioner, according to the Government of Canada.

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