In March 2021, Bill C-7 was given Royal Assent and Canada’s medical assistance in dying (MAID) law was expanded to allow more Canadians the right to exercise their constitutionally-protected right to a peaceful death.
This expansion of MAID was made possible because Canadians wanted change and they advocated for it through letter writing, meetings with MPs and Senators, story-telling and sharing lived experiences.
There is still work to be done
While we celebrate this achievement, there is still work to be done. A Special Joint Committee will now review the provisions of the Criminal Code relating to MAID and their application, including issues relating to advance requests, access to MAID by mature minors and by those whose sole condition is a mental illness. The parliamentary review will also study the state of palliative care in Canada and the protection of people living with disabilities.
You can continue to help
If you are passionate about end-of-life rights, you can continue to help. Dying With Dignity Canada has created an Advocacy Toolkit and Action Guide. It provides you with the resources you need to effectively engage with your Member of Parliament and/or provincial Senator(s).
The toolkit was developed to assist volunteers and supporters communicate DWDC’s position on the subjects being studied by the Special Joint Committee on MAID.
During her career, DWDC volunteer Shirley-Ann George worked in a role that engaged MPs and has personally arranged meetings with her own members of parliament. Her recommendation is to check to see if your MP hosts town halls. "Many MPs are doing virtual town halls on Facebook. It is an easy first step if you are a bit tentative in approaching your MP and can be an excellent venue to ask a short question," she suggests.
You do not have to cover all the issues being covered by the Special Joint Committee. If one issue is particularly important to you, you can focus on it during your meeting with your MP. The toolkit includes a position document on each of the subjects that you can share at the end of your meeting.
“MPs are gearing up for the next election. The summer is a perfect time to reach out to them while the House is no longer sitting and they are in their ridings,” Shirley-Ann suggests. "Do your homework. You can do a quick google search to understand where each party stands on MAID and to find the email address for your MP and the candidates in your riding."
The Advocacy Toolkit and Action Guide outlines everything you need to do to prepare for a meeting. Let’s keep the momentum going through our collective action and voice for end-of-life rights.