In June 2021, we hosted a webinar with a focus on death and dying in Eastern Canada. The conversation touched on general attitudes about death and dying, palliative care resources and supports, and information about medical assistance in dying.
This blog post will highlight the key takeaways from the webinar, or you can watch the full recording here.
- Dr. Aaron McKim has a private practice and works in long-term care in Newfoundland. He is a faculty member at Memorial University Medical School and has been involved in the provincial MAID infrastructure.
- Nicole Phinney is a MAID Nurse Navigator for Nova Scotia Health. She is involved in MAID coordination, teaching and program development for the province of Nova Scotia.
- John McCarthy is the MAID Medical Affairs Advisor for Nova Scotia.
- Dr. Megan Miller is the Chief Physician Recruiter for the Medical Society of P.E.I. and focuses her clinical practice on the delivery of MAID service in the province.
- Dr. Fran Alborg is a MAID assessor and provider in New Brunswick. She is a member of Canadian Association of MAID Assessors and Providers (CAMAP) and has been a member of the Dying With Dignity Canada’s Clinical Advisory Council.
General attitudes about death, dying and MAID in Eastern Canada
- Throughout the east coast, attitudes and conversations about death and dying vary. To some extent, rural communities have less access to information and can be more reluctant to have discussions about end-of-life care. Many patients are reluctant to bring up end-of-life care with their doctors.
- All the panelists agreed that education and access to information are key factors in broadening understanding about end-of-life options and inviting conversation on the topic.
- Promotion of Advance Care Planning was an avenue that all the panelists mentioned as a good conversation starter and opportunity for patients to begin thinking about their end-of-life care.
- Misinformation about MAID is common in the east coast with some patients and some physicians. All the provinces could benefit from centralized MAID coordinators, resources for patients and educational opportunities for health care providers.
- Dr. McKim helped develop online teaching tools for MAID in Newfoundland, but that funding was cancelled, and the tools are now out of date.
- In Nova Scotia, a research project on the experience in the MAID process is underway. The goal is to better understand the needs of people who have experienced a MAID death.
MAID statistics and resources by province
MAID deaths in the Maritime province are 1 – 1.5% of all deaths, slightly lower than the national average of 2 - 2.5%.
- From 2016 – 2019 there were 100+ MAID deaths.
- MAID coordinators in each region.
- Organ donation is not currently an option with a MAID death.
- Since 2016 there have been 1300 referrals and 600 MAID deaths.
- Central referral system through the Nova Scotia Health Authority.
- Organ donation can be arranged with a MAID death if certain criteria is met.
Prince Edward Island
- From 2016 – 2019 there were 31 recorded MAID deaths (data likely falsely low). Now with reporting to Health Canada, the data should be more accurate for 2020 onward.
- At the time of the webinar, P.E.I. did not have any infrastructure for MAID referrals. Patients can access information about MAID through their family doctor or by calling 811. Dr. Miller is currently involved in a proposal to implement a system in P.E.I.
- From 2016 – 2019 there were 265 MAID deaths.
- At the time of the webinar, New Brunswick did not have any infrastructure for MAID referrals. Patients can access information about MAID through their family doctor or by calling 811.
- Organ donation can be arranged with a MAID death.
Note: DWDC has an up-to-date resource on the website for navigating a request for MAID with regional information.