Ten Important Things You Need to Know about Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD)

Kevin Marshall

September 13, 2022

Here is what you need to know about Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD):

* This procedure refers to either a lethal injection administered by a medical professional (euthanasia) or provision of the means to die to a patient (assisted suicide).

* Previously, MAiD was confined to terminally ill patients who sought relief from a painful death.

* Effective March 17, 2022, MAiD has now been expanded to effectively provide relief from a painful life.

* Therefore, since the term is misleading, I will use the more accurate terms “euthanasia” and “assisted suicide”.

Full disclosure:  I will provide accurate information regarding Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide (E/AS) in Canada.  I hope that this information will assist you in making decisions, both now and in the future, for you and/or for your loved ones.  

But I am not neutral on this topic.  I support any person in life, male or female, young or old, who is struggling with health issues - physical, psychological, mental, and/or spiritual.  They deserve our help.  To help is to heal.  It is not to kill.  Therefore, I oppose euthanasia/assisted suicide without reservation.

Here are 10 other important facts you need to know about E/AS:

1. When E/AS was first introduced in 2016, it had built-in safeguards

(a) Doctors could only euthanize competent adults with a severe, irremediable medical condition facing a reasonably foreseeable natural death;

(b) 2 independent witnesses were required to corroborate the request for E/AS; and

(c) A 10-day reflection period was required.

2. In March 2022, these safeguards were removed.  E/AS is now available to eligible persons whose death is not “reasonably foreseeable”, including persons with “enduring and intolerable physical or psychological suffering that cannot be alleviated under conditions the person considers acceptable”.

3. In March 2023, E/AS will expand to include patients suffering solely from mental illness, such as depression or personality disorders.

4. This will present unique challenges since mental illness often encompasses profound despair and suicidality.

5. E/AS advocates are pushing to further expand these procedures to include mature minors and honour advance requests from patients with dementia.

6. E/AS has been presented as a powerful expression of personal autonomy.

7. In fact, some patients may reluctantly opt for E/AS as a result of inadequate provision of mental health, palliative care or other treatment options.  E/AS is an expression of weakness, not of power.

8. When patients opt to proceed with E/AS, their loved ones cannot reverse or influence that decision.  Friends or family members also are not entitled to medical records without the patient’s consent.  This may short-circuit, lengthen or complicate the usual mourning process.

9. E/AS challenges the age-old interconnectedness between patient, family and community.  This is perhaps best expressed by a suicide prevention hotline, which is intended to divert despairing individuals from death by re-connecting them with family and community supports.

10. Most importantly, E/AS disregards the reality that each person, both disabled and healthy, has inherent value in themselves by virtue of being made in the image of God.  Therefore, whether you are healthy or disabled, seek life, not death.  There are opportunities to make life more wonderful, rather than simply less painful.  Please look for them!

For help with making your wishes clearly known in your Power of Attorney for Personal Care, Power of Attorney for Property and your Last Will and Testament, contact me and my team at 416-383-0550.