Independent witness program

DWDC coordinates a group of volunteers who can serve as independent witnesses for assisted dying requests.

A patient’s formal written request must be signed and dated before two independent witnesses.

Within the Ottawa chapter, a small corps of DWDC volunteers are available to act as independent witnesses or proxies for formal requests for medical assistance in dying (MAID). They can be called upon whenever potential applicants for a MAID request are unable to find their own independent witnesses, given the stringent criteria for witnesses. A third volunteer could also be requested to act as a proxy for the MAID applicant, when the applicant is physically unable to sign the form. No one can act as an independent witness and proxy for the same patient. 

Independent witnessing of a MAID request by DWDC volunteers can be done in a hospital setting, in a long-term care facility or seniors’ residence, or in the community. The only condition is that a health care professional be present with the volunteers during the witnessing—usually the health care professional involved in the care of the individual.

The first point of contact to the DWDC Ottawa Chapter is normally from the health care professional involved in the individual’s care, such as the Director of Care from a long-term care facility. A DWDC independent witness coordinator then accesses a list of available volunteers to determine as quickly as possible a suitable day and time for the two volunteers and health professional to meet with the MAID applicant. 

There is no fee involved and some DWDC volunteers may be available to travel to communities surrounding the Ottawa area (but excluding West Quebec).

If you are interested in becoming an independent witness for MAID, or if you are seeking an independent witness, please contact DWDC National Events and Volunteer Coordinator Kelsey Goforth at kelsey.goforth@dyingwithdignity.ca.