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What is the criteria for medical assistance in dying?

demise personal directive Feb 12, 2020

Since June 2017 Medical Assistance in Dying has been legal in Alberta.

On June 17, 2016, the Federal parliament in Ottawa passed an Act that amended the Criminal Code so that Medical Assistance in Dying is permitted in Canada. This change occurred because by the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Carter v. Canada (Carter 2015) https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/other-autre/ad-am/p1.html. which permitted physician-assisted death. In the 2016 act, this was amended to medical assistance in dying to reflect that it is not solely physicians who are involved in providing the service.

There are a number of stages that you must go through to receive medical assistance in dying. 

  1. Stage 1- Pre-Contemplation - you begin seeking information and reflecting on this option with family and friends.
  2. Stage 2- Contemplation - you might make an informal or formal request for information or meet with your physician, and learn all options available for your medical care.
  3. Stage 3- Determination - You decide you want to explore this issue further and have a physician assess if you meet the mandatory eligibility requirements, as well as if there are changes to your treatment that might change your situation. If you meet the criteria and decide to pursue medical assistance in dying a second physician assessment will be required.
  4. Stage 4- Action - The physician will review with you the method, timing, and whether or not you would still like to proceed. The method that was chosen will then be provided.
  5. Stage 5- Care after Death- there will be grief support and follow-up for your family. Your body will be cared for as per your arrangements.

The current criteria for medical assistance in dying from the new legislation include:

  • An adult who is competent and:
  •  who is eligible for health services funded by the federal, provincial, or territorial government
  • who is in grievous and irremediable medical condition,
  • whose natural death has become foreseeable
  • who has made a voluntary request on the required forms
  • who has been informed of the treatments including palliative care;
  • who can provide informed consent; and
  • who has given written consent for the medical assistance in dying. 

If you want medical assistance in dying you can email [email protected] or call Health Link (811).


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