2021 Poll: Support for medically-assisted dying in Canada
Canadians continue to be supportive of MAID, and also towards changes to existing legislation to give Canadians control over how they approach end-of-life issues and decisions.
An overwhelming majority of Canadians continue to support access to medical assistance in dying, according to a national survey conducted by Ipsos in February 2021, on behalf of Dying With Dignity Canada (DWDC).
In 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the federal prohibition on assisted dying. MAID, or medical assistance in dying, became recognized as a constitutionally-protected right, and Canadians who satisfied the safeguards and eligibility criteria were granted the right to die with the help of a physician or nurse practitioner. Six years later, eighty-seven per cent of Canadians still support the Supreme Court’s Carter vs. Canada decision.
In February 2020, the federal government tabled Bill C-7 in response to a court ruling in Quebec. Justice Christine Baudouin ruled that the requirement that a person’s death be “reasonably foreseeable” was unconstitutional and infringed the rights to equality, liberty and security of the person. The government was given until March 11, 2020 to remove the reasonably foreseeable eligibility requirement from Canada’s assisted dying legislation – but was subsequently provided three extensions to bring Bill C-7 into law. A fourth extension was recently requested.
Seven in ten Canadians agree with removing the requirement that a patient’s death must be “reasonably foreseeable” in order to access MAID. Dying With Dignity Canada supports Bill C-7 and considers the amendments as a step in the right direction.
Seventy-eight percent of respondents support the addition of a “waiver of final consent,” which would allow patients who have been assessed and approved for MAID to move forward with the provision, even if they lose the capacity to consent prior to their scheduled date. This component of Bill C-7 is also referred to as Audrey’s Amendment, in recognition of Nova Scotia’s Audrey Parker who was forced to choose an early death because of the risk of losing capacity.
Most Canadians (83%) believe that people diagnosed with a grievous and irremediable medical condition, including those with dementia, should be allowed to make advance requests for medical assistance in dying (MAID).
“We hear from Canadians every day who continue to suffer because of their inability to access MAID under the current legislation. It is encouraging to see that the majority of Canadians agree with removing the ‘reasonably foreseeable’ death requirement, and support the addition of advance requests,” said Helen Long, CEO of Dying With Dignity Canada. “It’s all about compassion, equality and choice at end-of-life.”
3,500 Canadians were interviewed on the Ipsos I-Say Panel for the poll from February 12-17, 2021 – including health care practitioners, Canadians from BIPOC and LGBTQ2S+ communities and people living with a chronic physical/mental condition or disability.
The survey found that a large majority of every demographic group studied supports the Supreme Court ruling in Carter vs. Canada that recognizes medical assistance in dying as a constitutionally-protected right.
- Eighty-four per cent of persons with a chronic physical/mental condition or disability support the right to medical assistance in dying.
- Support for removing the “reasonably foreseeable” death requirement from Canada’s assisted dying law rises with age, with Boomers expressing the strongest support.
- Two in three Canadians support access to MAID for those whose sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness, if they meet all other criteria and have the capacity to provide informed consent.
- Similarly, two in three Canadians support the ability for mature minors to request and be considered for MAID, if all other criteria are met under the law.
More about the poll:
The results of this poll have been weighted to reflect the overall population of Canada. The precision of online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the results are accurate to within +/- 1.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had all Canadian adults been polled.
Click here for data and a further breakdown of poll results.
Dying With Dignity Canada is the national organization committed to improving quality of dying and expanding end-of-life choice.
Click here for results from the 2020 Ipsos Poll.