How DWDC brought supporters' stories to the federal studies on assisted dying

It came as a major disappointment when the Council of Canadian Academies — the research institute tasked by the federal government to study the future of assisted dying — said it wouldn't be consulting with ordinary Canadians as part of its work. As the leading organization working to defend Canadians' end-of-life rights, we at Dying With Dignity Canada felt that you deserved a seat at the table when it comes to your rights and your choice.

But, as Rachel Phan, DWDC's digital communications coordinator, explains, we hashed out a plan to include your voices as part of our official submission to the CCA, to make sure the researchers involved knew what was truly at stake. When we put out a call for letters from our supporters, she writes, the response was overwhelming. And the stories and perspectives contained in the 746 letters we received reminded us of the human cost of assisted dying rules that fail to respect Canadians' rights at end of life.

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Kate's story: My dad chose a medically assisted death. This is my celebration of his life and choice.

In late June, Mark Alexander died peacefully at his home, surrounded by his close family and friends. The British Columbia man was an avid outdoorsman, globe-trotter, and beer-league hockey player who loved all kinds of physical activity, but loved his family above all else. Despite his zest for life, Mark was always realistic about his prostate cancer diagnosis. After every treatment failed, he made the decision to access medical assistance in dying, and he did so with unwavering conviction. At his Celebration of Life reception, his daughter, Kate, presented a speech about his end-of-life choice. She has graciously allowed us to share her beautiful words on our blog.

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Dr. David Amies: Manitoba's new assisted dying law fails to put patients first

In this blog post, Dr. David Amies comments on the recent passage of Manitoba's Bill 34, which prioritizes the view of objecting clinicians over the rights of patients. This, Dr. Amies writes, is akin to doing harm to the province's most vulnerable people.

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Maggie’s story: Will I be able to make the end-of-life choice I want?

Maggie Bristow can no longer bear to breathe because every breath sets her body afire with pain. The Ottawa woman has fibromyalgia and spinal stenosis, along with a host of other medical conditions, and wants nothing more than to be able to access medical assistance in dying. Physically unable to write her own story, Maggie spoke with Dying With Dignity Canada volunteer Liana Brittain, who helped Maggie put her excruciating pain into words.

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Kathy’s story: My second wife’s assisted death brought peace and joy. But my first wife’s death still haunts me.

Kathy watched Kim, her wife of 25 years, die a "soul-destroying" and traumatic death in 2014 — just two years before Canada passed its assisted dying law.

A few years later, Kathy watched as her second wife, Lynne, was diagnosed with a terminal disease, but this time, assisted dying was newly legal and available in Canada. The contrast between Kim's death and Lynne's was stark, Kathy writes.

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'Disappointing' assisted dying bill passes in Manitoba

The passage of the Manitoba government’s Bill 34 is a major blow to patient rights in the province, Dying With Dignity Canada says.

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In Case You Missed It: October 2017

In Case You Missed It is a monthly round-up of news articles and commentaries featuring Dying With Dignity Canada speakers and stories. Did you miss these stories in October?

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Read: DWDC's presentation on Manitoba's Bill 34

What responsibilities do physicians who conscientiously object to assisted dying have to patients who request it?

That was the topic of a pointed discussion in a committee of legislators on Monday night. Advocates and experts testified to MLAs about Bill 34, the government’s proposed legislation on medical assistance in dying (MAID).

Dying With Dignity Canada has major concerns about the bill, which threatens to reinforce unfair barriers to MAID access in the province of Manitoba. DWDC Communications Officer Cory Ruf presented via teleconference to MLAs on the Manitoba legislature’s Standing Committee on Legislative Affairs.

Despite the concerns DWDC raised, the committee did not make any amendments to this piece of legislation. It is expected to go to a final vote in the Manitoba legislature by the end of the week, according to a report in the Winnipeg Free Press. (The CBC also covered the meeting on Bill 34.)

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Jana's story: My husband’s assisted death spared him the suffering he feared most

When Jana Buhlmann's husband, Chris, celebrated his 41st birthday, it was a bittersweet occasion because they both knew it would be his last. The very next day, Chris was scheduled to have his medically assisted death. He struggled with the decision, but he knew his grim prognosis and the imminent intolerable suffering on the road ahead. Assisted dying offered him another, more compassionate path instead, Jana writes.

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Dr. David Amies: Key takeaways from Ottawa's second interim report on assisted dying in Canada

On October 6, the federal government released its second interim report on medical assistance in dying in Canada. The report provides a clearer picture of how assisted dying was implemented across the country in the first year after the passage of Bill C-14. In this blog post, Dr. David Amies takes a closer look at the report's findings and outlines possibilities for the future of assisted dying in Canada.

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