MAiD (medical assistance in dying) is legal throughout Canada.

Canada’s current legislation on MAiD is here.

Proposed amendments to Canada’s current legislation on MAiD (known as “C-7”) were introduced in February, 2020 and are available to read here. However, that Bill died when Parliament was prorogued in August 2020.

The federal Minister of Justice introduced proposed amendments on October 5, 2020 (again known as “C-7”). You can read the Bill and watch its progress through Parliament here.

The most significant proposed amendments include: removing “reasonably foreseeable” as an eligibility criterion; introducing a two-track procedural safeguards system (individuals whose natural death has become reasonably foreseeable are on track one and individuals whose natural deaths have not are on track two – where the procedural safeguards on track two are much more onerous); reducing the number of witnesses required from two to one; removing the ten day waiting period (for individuals on track one); introducing a “final consent waiver” (if an individuals meets all of the eligibility criteria for MAiD, they can make a written agreement with their clinician to have MAiD provided on a specific date in the future if they have lost decision-making capacity); and excluding individuals with “mental illness” as their sole underlying medical condition from accessing MAiD.


What is MAiD?

MAiD is assistance provided by a doctor or nurse practitioner to a person, at that person’s request, that causes the person’s death. MAiD can happen in one of two ways.

  • A doctor or nurse practitioner gives a drug to the patient that causes the patient’s death.
  • Or a doctor or nurse practitioner prescribes a drug for a person, at the person’s request, that the person can swallow and cause their own death.

This video on the legal status of MAiD in Canada is a public lecture with a question and answer period. It’s about an hour and a half long, but fully explores MAiD in Canada.


Who can access MAiD?

To access MAiD in Canada* you must:

  • be eligible for health care services in Canada (or you would be eligible but for a minimum period of living in a province or territory or a waiting period for eligibility)
  • be at least 18 years old
  • be capable of making decisions with respect to your health
  • have asked for MAiD yourself and no one is pressuring you to ask for it
  • have been told about other available ways to relieve your suffering, including palliative care
  • have given informed consent to receive MAiD
  • have what is called a “grievous and irremediable medical condition”

Having a “grievous and irremediable medical condition” means:

  • you have a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability
  • you are in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability
  • your illness, disease or disability or that state of decline causes you enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable to you and that cannot be relieved under conditions that you consider acceptable
  • your natural death has become reasonably foreseeable, taking into account all of your medical circumstances, without a prognosis necessarily having been made as to the specific length of time that you have remaining

Click here for more information about interpreting Canada’s MAiD legislation.

* For an exception specific to Quebec, see below


What are the key safeguards for MAiD?

A person who wants MAiD must meet the criteria set out above and follow the steps set out below.

  • A request for MAiD must be signed by two witnesses.
  • Two providers independent of one another must confirm that the eligibility criteria have been met.
  • Ten days must pass between the day the request was signed and the day MAiD is provided (unless death or loss of capacity is imminent in which case the waiting period can be shortened or eliminated).
  • Consent must be reconfirmed immediately before MAiD is provided. This means that MAiD cannot be provided to individuals who requested it when they were competent but are no longer competent, i.e., there can be no advance requests for MAiD.


Who is accessing MAiD and how often?

The most recent official data on MAiD in Canada can be found here.
The most recent official data on MAiD in Quebec can be found here.


How is MAiD in Quebec different from MAiD in the rest of Canada?

An additional legal framework for MAiD applies in Quebec and is set out in An Act respecting end of life care.

The key differences between the federal and Quebec legislation re: MAiD are the following:

  • Canada allows physicians and nurse practitioners to provide MAiD while Quebec only allows physicians
  • Canada allows provider- and self-administered MAiD while Quebec only allows provider-administered.

A key difference between Quebec and the rest of Canada that results from a court case is that as a result of the Truchon decision and extensions to the deadline for the decision to come into effect, individuals in Quebec who meet all of the eligibility criteria under the federal legislation except “natural death has become reasonably foreseeable” can apply to a court for judicial authorization for MAiD until February 26, 2021 (at which point the Truchon decision will take effect).


How is MAiD in Canada different from MAiD in other parts of the world?

The key differences between Canada and other places that allow MAiD are:

  • unlike anywhere else, nurse practitioners are allowed to provide MAiD
  • unlike the American states, provider-administered MAiD is allowed
  • unlike the American states, access to MAiD is not limited to those who are terminally ill
  • unlike the European countries, whether suffering is intolerable is assessed entirely by the person

Links to legislation, case law, data, and other sources of information on MAiD in other parts of the world are available here.


A Deeper Dive into MAiD in Canada

Much more detailed information about MAiD in Canada is available by clicking on the links below:

Legal History

Major MAiD Court Cases

Charter challenges to federal and Quebec MAiD legislation

Freedom of religion/conscience cases

Third parties trying to prevent someone from accessing MAiD

Provincial/Territorial MAiD Legislation, Regulations, Programs

Health Professional Regulatory Body Guidelines, Standards, and Disciplinary Decisions

Clinical Guidance Documents

Major reports

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