Previous organizational priorities and their outcomes.
We have come a long way in the defense of end-of-life rights in Canada. While we continue to advocate for those unable to access their constitutional rights, we cannot forget about what we have accomplished.
On February 6, 2015, the nine justices of the high court unanimously struck down the federal prohibition on medically assisted dying, arguing that the old law forced Canadians to endure intense suffering against their will and, in turn, violated their Charter rights.
Dying With Dignity Canada advocated for a framework for assisted dying that reflected the thoughtful, compassionate principles of the Carter decision, which set out guidelines for who was eligible for MAID. In striking down the old ban on assisted dying, the Supreme Court established MAID as a right for competent, consenting adults with a “grievous and irremediable” illness, disease or disability causing enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual.
In 2019, the Court of Appeal for Ontario ruled that doctors who oppose assisted dying must connect patients who request it with a non-objecting provider or agency — this is known as an effective referral policy. Dying With Dignity Canada intervened in support of the defense in the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) court challenge.
On March 17, 2021, the acting Governor General and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court signed Bill C-7 into law. As a result, Canadians no longer must have a reasonably foreseeable death in order to be eligible for medical assistance in dying; There are now two sets of safeguards in place: One for those whose death is reasonably foreseeable, and one for those who death is not reasonably foreseeable; Canadians with a reasonably foreseeable death, who have been assessed and approved for medical assistance in dying, but risk losing the capacity to consent prior to the MAID procedure, will be able to sign a waiver of final consent; During the two-year mental illness exclusion, the Government of Canada will hear from experts and develop safeguards and protocols for people who seek access to MAID, but whose sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness.
Audrey Parker — a Halifax woman who spent the last weeks of her life raising awareness about a flaw in Canada’s assisted dying legislation — was instrumental in the inclusion into the law of a waiver of final consent for those who have been assessed and approved for medical assistance in dying, but risk losing capacity to consent prior to their provision.
Dying With Dignity Canada advocates for assisted dying rules – and other end-of-life options – that respect the Canadian Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Empower. Inform. Protect your rights.