Tell Premier Ford to remove unfair barriers to assisted dying

The new provincial government needs to know the strength of Ontarians’ support for medical assistance in dying. Let’s make sure that Premier Ford and his fellow MPPs know that we expect our elected officials to remove the barriers that prevent Ontarians from exercising their right to a peaceful death.

Assisted dying has been legal in Canada since June 2016. Within a year of legalization, more than 1,300 people had accessed it — putting an end to their intolerable suffering, and instead, choosing a peaceful, dignified death.

Despite the new law, not all Canadians have fair and equal access to medical assistance in dying (MAID). Many publicly funded hospitals, hospices and long-term care homes forbid assisted death on their premises, and some even prevent their patients from being assessed for their eligibility.  

Ontarians face an additional challenge to access — provincial legislation allows healthcare institutions to shield their assisted dying policies from the public, making it harder for patients to make informed decisions about where they would like to receive their end-of-life care.

As a consequence, people who are suffering and at the end of their lives must travel to access MAID — which can be excruciatingly painful. In some cases, people die or lose capacity while they’re waiting for a transfer to be arranged, robbing them of their right to a peaceful death.  

Forced transfers for assisted dying are wrong. Allowing facilities to forbid assisted death on their premises is an unfair burden on vulnerable Canadians and their families. And our provincial leaders are doing little to stop it.

Increasingly, groups who oppose assisted death are mobilizing and lobbying provincial governments to make access as limited as possible.

If we don't act, then we risk allowing these harmful policies to become permanently entrenched.

We need to speak out now: The new provincial government has not yet taken a stance on MAID, so right now we have the opportunity to set the agenda. Premier Ford needs to know that we will continue to demand fair access to assisted dying for any Ontarian who wants to exercise their right to a peaceful death.

Please send an email urging Premier Ford to ensure fair access to assisted dying in all our publicly funded hospitals, hospices, and long-term care facilities.

Together, we can send a strong message to our leaders: We will continue to raise our voices until Canadians have fair and equal access to their right to a peaceful death.

(Header photo credit: Mat Hayward/Adobe Stock)