Tell Health Canada: Canadians shouldn’t have to choose between palliative care and assisted dying

Canadians must have improved, equitable access to high-quality palliative care.

But palliative care is not a substitute for having the option of medically assisted dying. Both are essential options on a spectrum of care for people navigating their end-of-life choices. Canadians need — and deserve — both.

That’s why we’re calling on Canadians to speak up now. Health Canada is developing a framework on palliative care for Canadians, and they want to hear from you. As part of its work, the government is inviting Canadians to share their ideas, stories and points of view related to end-of-life care.

While the Health Canada consultation makes no mention of medical assistance in dying (MAID), we know that any thoughtful, meaningful discussions about the future of palliative care in this country must incorporate assisted dying.

It is critical that the government’s long-term vision for palliative care implements an integrated approach that doesn’t treat assisted dying as separate and taboo. Ensuring every Canadian has access to a full range of end-of-life options is vital to making sure suffering Canadians are treated with compassion and that their personal autonomy is respected.

What does an integrated approach to palliative care look like? To put it plainly, Canadians who want palliative care and need it should also have access to MAID, and vice versa. Requesting an assisted death should never make it more difficult for an individual to access palliative care. A fair and integrated approach to palliative care and MAID must put the patient and their right to choice first.

We have until July 13 to make our voices heard. Please send an email to Health Canada to urge them to ensure fair access to a full range of end-of-life choices for all Canadians.

Together, we can send a strong message to our decision-makers: If we are to say we value compassion and choice for suffering individuals, then we must create a future where Canadians are presented with exactly that — a choice.

Here's how it works:

  • Enter your postal code so the recipients know where you hail from.
  • Then, enter your name and email address. (Phone number is optional.)
  • You can use the default text, or you can customize it to make your message even more powerful.

After that, click "Send my email." Your message will be sent to the team spearheading Health Canada’s public consultation on palliative care and Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor.

Once you’re done, send the link to your friends and family, and post it to social media. Together, we can promote an approach to end-of-life care that puts patients first. Act today!

(Background photo credit: Tony Webster/Flickr)