Health Canada announces regulations for monitoring assisted dying

Health Canada has revealed its final regulations for a national system for monitoring medical assistance in dying (MAID).

Announced on Thursday, the regulations, which will come into force on November 1, outline what information needs to be reported to the federal government after a clinician receives a request for medical assistance in dying. The regulations also require Health Canada to release at least once a year a public report based on the data that is collected.

Since the legalization of assisted dying in June 2016, methods for collecting information about MAID have differed from one province or territory to the next. The implementation of this national monitoring system is intended to “provide Canadians with a clear picture of how the legislation is working across the country, and create consistent data sets among jurisdictions and regions,” Health Canada said in a statement explaining the regulations.

Dying With Dignity Canada is strongly supportive of the creation of a national system for monitoring medical assistance in dying and provided feedback on a draft version of the regulations earlier this year. A number of DWDC’s recommendations were reflected in the final regulations.

“Our objective is to support the creation of a MAID monitoring system that helps protect vulnerable Canadians, promotes transparency, and improves our collective understanding of how the MAID rules are being applied, without imposing an undue burden on suffering patients and the clinicians who are responsible for their care,” we wrote in our Feb. 2018 submission to Health Canada.

“When it comes to all rules and regulations for MAID, the person — the vulnerable patient whose rights and interests are most at stake — must come first.”

Though Dying With Dignity Canada is supportive of many of the changes that have been made, the organization is calling on Health Canada to review the regulations every six months, to ensure that they don’t deter clinicians from participating in the legal provision of assisted dying.

“If the reporting requirements make it more difficult for eligible people to find a clinician who can help alleviate their suffering,” said DWDC CEO Shanaaz Gokool, “then the monitoring system will have failed the objective of protecting Canadians’ rights.”

You can read Health Canada’s Regulations for the Monitoring of Medical Assistance in Dying on the Government of Canada’s website.

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