2022 poll: Support for medically assisted dying in Canada
This a summary of the findings of a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Dying With Dignity Canada in April 2022 regarding support for medically assisted dying in Canada.
A sample of 3,500 Canadians aged 18 years and over was interviewed on the Ipsos I-Say Panel from April 19 to 25, 2022. Weighting was employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects the overall population according to the latest census information.
Following the Carter v. Canada case, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the federal prohibition on assisted dying in 2015. Medical assistance in dying (MAID) became recognized as a constitutionally protected right, and Canadians whose death was reasonably foreseeable and met the eligibility criteria were granted to right to die with the help of a nurse practitioner or physician.
In March of 2021, Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), was signed into law, removing the criteria that a person’s death must be reasonably foreseeable to be eligible for MAID, among other changes. Bills C-14 and C-7 included a Parliamentary Review of MAID and topics such as advance requests, mature minors, MAID for mental illness, the state of palliative care, and the protection of people with disabilities. The Parliamentary Review is underway and expected to conclude in October 2022.
Support among Canadians for the Carter v. Canada decision is unchanged from last year at 86%. Canadians over the age of 55 have strong support at 90%. Support among faith communities remains high, including 87% of Catholics and 82% of Protestants. Additionally, 80% Canadians who identify as BIPOC support the decision.
Eight in ten (82%) of Canadians support the recent removal of the ‘reasonably foreseeable’ eligibility requirement from MAID law. This is an increase of 13% from the 2021 Ipsos results. Eighty-three per cent of people with a disability also support this change, and among the BIPOC community, 75% support removing the requirement.
An advance request for MAID is a request created in advance of a loss of decision-making capacity, intended to be acted upon under the circumstances outlined in the request after the person has lost decisional capacity (competency). Eighty-five per cent of Canadians support an advance request for MAID for individuals with an irremediable diagnosis. And similar to the previous year, 77% support an advance request without an irremediable diagnosis.
Eighty-six per cent of those polled agree that a person should be able to request medical assistance in dying in advance if they meet all the criteria, and 84% agree that any advance request for MAID that meets to person’s criteria should be complied with.
Some publicly funded health care facilities in Canada refuse to allow or provide MAID on-site because of their religious affiliation. Seventy-six per cent of those polled agree that all health care facilities that receive public funds have an obligation to provide a full range of health care services if they have the proper equipment and staff to do so. Seventy-five per cent of those who identify as Catholic and 68% of Protestants also support this statement.
In Canada, clinicians have a right to limit the health services they provide for reasons of conscience or religion – a conscientious objection. However, patients also have the right to access health care in a timely manner. Seventy-three per cent of Canadians believe that clinicians who do not wish to assess or provide MAID for reasons of conscience should be required to provide their patients with an effective referral. Those who identify as Catholic or Protestant also support effective referrals – 73% and 74% respectively.
Dying With Dignity Canada is the national human-rights charity committed to improving quality of dying, protecting end-of-life rights, and helping Canadians avoid unwanted suffering.