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Canada: Final report on MAID is published

This february, the Final Report of the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying has been published. (You can find it below.) The committee was tasked with studying five key issues: advance requests, MAID for those with a mental disorder as the sole underlying condition, the protection of people living with disabilities, the state of palliative care in Canada, and MAID for mature minors.

Dying With Dignity Canada published the following reaction:

Dying With Dignity Canada will be taking the time to review the Final Report, and its 23 recommendations, in detail over the next few days in order to provide a thorough and thoughtful response to the recommendations. At the outset, what stands out to us is the focus on collaboration, harmonization, and standardization of MAID assessments and provisions across the country – a welcome and necessary step towards ensuring safe and equitable access to end-of-life choice.

We know that the issue of advance requests is of utmost importance to our supporters. We are pleased that the committee recommends amending the Criminal Code to allow advance requests for people diagnosed with a capacity-eroding medical condition, disease, or disorder, such as dementia. We encourage the government to move swiftly with the legalization of advance requests so that those who wish to can make a request for MAID while they still have the capacity and autonomy to do so, so that no one has to die earlier than they would like for fear of losing capacity.

We recently shared with you the tabling of Bill C-39: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying) to delay the implementation of MAID for mental disorders until March 17, 2024. The committee has announced their support for this extension. We want to emphasize that the status of MAID for mental disorders remains the same as the Bill continues to make its way through the political process. We will share any further updates when they become available.

We were pleased to see a focus throughout the report in several key areas:

  • Meaningful engagement with Indigenous peoples and communities
  • Support for increased funding and improved access to palliative care
  • Research, consultation, and recognition of mature minors in future legislation
  • The recommendation to convene an expert panel to study the needs of people with disabilities to avoid stigmatization and provide economic security, and
  • The focus on data, reporting, and research.

These are all critical issues and we are heartened by the careful and deliberate thought that the AMAD committee has devoted to them. You can find a brief summary of this information on our website and we will be adding more as we review the report in detail.

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