On June 17, 2016, the Federal government introduced legislation that allows eligible adults to request medical assistance in dying (MAID).
In Canada, there are two types of medical assistance in dying, where a physician or nurse practitioner:
- Directly administers a substance that causes death, such as an injection of a drug
- Gives a drug that is self-administered to cause death.
Medical assistance in dying can be legally provided by licensed physicians and nurse practitioners, at the direction of an adult who meets all the criteria.
Who is eligible for medical assistance in dying?
Under federal legislation, an individual must meet all of the following criteria to be considered eligible for medical assistance in dying.
- Be eligible for health services funded by the federal government or a province or territory. Generally, visitors to Canada are not eligible for medical assistance in dying.
- Be at least 18 years old and mentally competent (this means capable of making healthcare decisions for yourself).
- Have a grievous and irremediable medical condition. This means you must meet all of the following conditions:
- Have a serious illness, disease or disability
- Be in an advanced state of decline that cannot be reversed
- Be suffering unbearably from an illness, disease, disability or state of decline
- Be at a point where your natural death has become reasonably foreseeable, which takes into account all of your medical circumstances.
- Make a request for medical assistance in dying which is not the result of outside pressure or influence.
- Give informed consent to receive medical assistance in dying. This means you have consented to medical assistance in dying after being given all the information needed to make your decision. This includes information about:
- Your medical diagnosis
- Available forms of treatment
- Available options to relieve suffering, including palliative care.
People with mental health conditions as the only underlying medical condition, and mature minors, are not eligible under the legislation. Also, advance care directives cannot be used as authority to provide medical assistance in dying. Proxies or substitute decision-makers cannot consent for medical assistance in dying on behalf of a person who lacks capacity to make healthcare decisions.
How to request medical assistance in dying
Individuals interested in medical assistance in dying can approach their physician or nurse practitioner to inquire about whether they qualify. All individuals must provide informed, written and voluntary consent to termination of life. Informed consent means that an individual understands the nature, benefits, risks, alternatives and consequences of a healthcare decision. It also means the individual has had all of their questions sufficiently answered.
The right of providers to act according to their beliefs and values
Saskatoon Health Region is committed to assist individuals in exercising their right to self-determination and to ensure that they have equitable access to medical assistance in dying. Not all physicians and nurse practitioners will provide medical assistance in dying. If individuals who wish to access medical assistance in dying are receiving care in a faith-based hospital or long-term care home, a transfer to another location may be necessary.
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