April 8, 2020: Message from CEO Helen Long

The latest update from the desk of Dying With Dignity's CEO, Helen Long. Stay tuned for regular updates on our work and current events. In this update: an introduction from Helen, and how COVID-19 is affecting our work and access to end-of-life choice.

I’m writing this message today to thank you for your continued support of, and interest in, Dying With Dignity Canada and the work that we do to protect end-of-life rights, improve quality of dying, and help Canadians avoid unwanted suffering. After three weeks in my role as CEO, I have been inspired and impressed by the commitment and dedication that our volunteers and our team have demonstrated. I am excited to be making my own contributions alongside them.

We’re living in an uncertain and rapidly changing time, and the health and safety of our community is our top priority. As you may know, our entire team is working remotely in order to minimize the spread of the virus. So far, this is working well from a technical aspect — although, like many people right now, we are missing being together. We have also taken measures to ensure the safety of our volunteers and supporters by suspending our chapter events and witnessing program. Based on recent developments, we hope to be starting virtual witnessing in some provinces in the near future. Through this, staff are continuing to support Canadians looking for information or help every day, and in every way they can.

We’ve been active on the media front in the past three weeks, participating in numerous interviews with radio and print media across the country about end-of-life rights, and how COVID-19 is impacting access to care. We’re also seeing increased interest and discussion about advance care planning among Canadians and in the media. Each of these interviews is another opportunity for us to share our message as well as our current concerns and priorities with millions of Canadians.

As we continue to monitor how COVID-19 is affecting access to MAID across Canada, we are pleased to note that many clinicians and facilities are continuing to provide care and the right to end-of-life choice despite additional complications and barriers. It was wonderful to see British Columbia, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia introduce temporary changes to the provision of MAID that will support access during this time.

DWDC continues to actively advocate both federally and provincially to ensure that every Canadian has access to quality end-of-life choice and care, including a medically assisted death. If you haven’t already supported our current letter writing campaign to encourage your Member of Parliament to support the tabled assisted dying legislation, click here to do so. As we wait to see the impact that COVID-19 has on the progress of Bill C-7 and the scheduled legislative review in June, we are using this time to research, plan, and prepare for the coming months that will determine the future of end of life rights in Canada.  

Unsurprisingly, we are hearing from many who are concerned about their ability to access MAID in the event they contract COVID-19. While this would be possible, it may be logistically difficult and will largely depend on the capacity of healthcare facilities and medical practitioners in each community. We encourage all Canadians to discuss their end-of-life choices today, to ensure that their wishes are documented and that their families, substitute decision-makers, and health care providers are aware of their wishes. DWDC has several resources, including an exclusive COVID-19 Advance Care Planning Kit, that can help you in that process. You can find those resources here.

In the days and weeks ahead, DWDC will continue to address the immediate challenges and concerns raised by COVID-19 and will advance our advocacy and communications efforts. With the support of the Board and in collaboration with our team at DWDC, I’ll be planning for the future — ensuring that we are setting the bar high for success and then determining how to best achieve it.

Thank you so very much for your support; we truly couldn’t do our work without you. I’ll be posting updates on a regular basis, and you can also find all the latest DWDC news on our website or by following us on Facebook or Twitter.

Take care and stay safe, 


Helen Long, CEO



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