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Three things you can do to influence new federal legislation for assisted dying

With less than three months to go until the Supreme Court’s ruling in Carter v. Canada finally comes into effect, the federal government is busy drafting new legislation for physician-assisted dying. As a result, there’s never been a more crucial time for the 85 per cent of Canadians who support the right to assisted dying to speak out for new, patient-centred laws.

Do you want to help win Canadians fair, safe and timely access to their right to die with dignity? Then Voice Your Choice to your political leaders today! Here are three ways to make yourself heard.

1) The easiest way to tell your MP your wishes for new legislation for assisted dying is by using Dying With Dignity Canada’s Email-a-Rep tool. With a few clicks of your mouse, you can send a strong message to your local MP as well as to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Health Minister Jane Philpott. Just plug in your postal code, name and email address to generate a tailored message. Then, you can either fire off the default text, or add your own personal touches. It’s easy!

2) Want to go above and beyond? A typed or handwritten letter makes it easier to add personal flare and usually has more impact than a simple email to your MP. Our 2016 Federal Letter-Writing Toolkit is loaded with suggestions on how to Voice Your Choice for patient-centred legislation for assisted dying. Use it to craft a powerful appeal to any of the following players: your MP, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, Health Minister Jane Philpott, or all of the above.

3) Having an in-person conversation with your MP is perhaps the single most impactful thing you can do to influence your representative’s approach to the issue of physician-assisted dying. With that in mind, we created a toolkit with suggestions on how to organize a meeting with your MP and what points to bring up when you’re speaking face to face with your representative.

If you live in one of the more than 180 ridings across Canada with a Liberal MP, then your feedback will filter up the ranks and could potentially affect the shape of the legislation that’s being drafted by government brass. Even if your MP belongs to another party, speaking with them could sway how they vote on an assisted dying bill when it’s tabled in Parliament. Simply put, these meetings are invaluable to the movement for compassion and choice at end of life!

If you have scheduled a meeting with your MP and want additional guidance on what questions to ask, please contact Kelsey Goforth, Dying With Dignity Canada’s National Volunteer and Events Coordinator, at kelsey@dyingwithdignity.ca.


Albertans: The AHS wants to hear your views on assisted dying

While Ottawa is mulling new federal laws for physician-assisted dying, the Government of Alberta is asking residents for input on what the province should do to prepare for the fast-approaching legalization of end-of-life choice.

The Alberta Health Services' online survey poses a series of questions relating to how the provision of assisted dying could be managed in the province of Alberta. It asks respondents to weigh in on a number of extremely important issues, including who should be allowed to access aid in dying, where assisted dying could be performed and whether doctors who oppose assisted dying should be required to connect patients who request it with another provider or a third-party referral agency.  

This is another not-to-be-missed opportunity to shape the future of physician-assisted dying in Alberta. Once again, we've developed a toolkit to help our supporters speak out in favour of new rules that promote fair, safe and timely access to medical aid in dying. It includes step-by-step instructions on how to complete the online consultation and identifies key questions to watch out for.

Things to note about the online survey:

  • The online survey is available here: https://extranet.gov.ab.ca/opinio6//s?s=29359
  • The last day to complete the survey is March 31, 2016.
  • The approximate time to complete is 15-20 minutes.
  • Most of the answers are multiple choice, but Question 12 allots space for you to provide additional comments. 
  • You can also fill out a print version of the survey and mail it to the following address:
Alberta Health Services
Attn: Physician-Assisted Death Survey
P.O. Box 1360, Station Mail
Edmonton, AB T5J 2N3 

Sending in additional comments

After completing the survey, you may wish to share additional thoughts with the Alberta government. You are welcome to send your letters to ABHealth.Consultation@gov.ab.ca.

Once you’re done, please send an email to consultation@dyingwithdignity.ca to let us know you’ve weighed in to the AHS. Not only do we love hearing from our supporters, but your feedback helps us gauge the effectiveness of our advocacy efforts. 

Did you find this useful? If so, please consider donating to Dying With Dignity Canada so we can continue to create resources to help you Voice Your Choice.

(Header photo credit: WinterforceMedia/Wikimedia)


Barb B.'s story

On recent visit with my mother, I sat down to do her nails. It was the first time in my life that I noticed her hands. 

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Manitoba letter-writing toolkit

After completing the College’s online survey, you may wish to share additional comments by sending an e-mail to PAD@cpsm.mb.ca

We encourage all of our Manitoba supporters to participate and help influence the regulatory process for physician assisted death. Here is an outline to help you craft a powerful message to the College. Take a look.

"Dear College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba,  

Summary of your letter (optional)

In two or three bullet points summarize your main thoughts on the CPSM’s Draft Statement .  Sample starter prompts may include:

“Manitoba residents deserve a compassionate and patient-centred approach to physician assisted dying.” 

OR

“I have some concerns that the Manitoba College’s approach in the Draft Statement may endanger a patient-centred approach to physician assisted dying.”

The body of your letter

Using clear, concise language, tell the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba that there are a few important considerations that need to be addressed in their Draft Statement with regards to physician assisted dying in the province. 

For more background on Dying With Dignity Canada’s proposals for legislation, please see our 2015 Draft Policy Framework.

In your own words, you may wish to highlight the following concerns, which relate specifically to the College’s Draft Statement

1. You are concerned that the College does not require doctors who decline to provide a physician assisted death when requested by a patient, with a duty to refer or to provide information to that patient about physician assisted dying.

At the very minimum, physicians who refuse to provide assisted death must be required to refer patients who request it to another doctor or referral agency (should one exist) to ensure their patients are not abandoned. 

Physicians cannot expect that someone who is grievously and irremediably ill will have the ability to find another willing doctor to help them end their suffering. Patients who are suffering intolerably generally do not have the physical wherewithal to seek out willing physician on their own. They should not be left to their own devices in their search for a peaceful end to their lives. Such a situation is tantamount to patient abandonment. No physician will be required to provide physician assisted dying against their will, but any person choosing to practice medicine has obligations to their patients. The physician’s right to conscience must be balanced with the patient’s right to a peaceful death.

It is a standard practice in health care for doctors to provide information about medical treatments and options if a patient requests. Therefore, it is troubling that the College’s Draft Statement implies that declining doctors may not have to provide information about physician assisted dying should a patient request it.

2. You would like the College to state where physician assisted dying can occur. It is discussed in the survey but not in the Draft Statement.

Patients who have a medical condition that causes them to face enduring and intolerable suffering should not have to move out of their home communities to access a peaceful death. We believe that patients should be able to receive a physician assisted death where they choose whether it is at an institution or at home.  

Some institutions will struggle with the thought of allowing a service they believe to be at odds with their mission or ideology. In the case of a clash between institution's rights and patient's rights, the rights of patients must come first. No publicly funded institution should be able to deny a patient or resident their right to access a peaceful death.

3. Ask The College to amend the responsibilities of the assisting physician not to include confirmation of diagnosis.

DWD Canada supports the requirement that two doctors separately assess the competency of any patient who requests a physician assisted death.

We have noted that the Draft Advice requires that a second physician also confirm a patient’s diagnosis and prognosis. 

DWD Canada believes that the role of the second physician includes confirming that the patient’s condition is grievous and irremediable. In some situations this will not be through diagnosis but through discussion with the attending physician and review of the medical records. This is critical because some diagnoses may require a specialist to be detected, and this could present an unreasonable barrier to timely access, particularly in remote locations.

As such, it is not appropriate that a new second diagnosis and prognosis be mandatory. It is sufficient that the first diagnosis be confirmed.

Use personal experience. Include a personal story to illustrate why you’re passionate about making sure the College’s approach to physician assisted dying is compassionate. Did you watch a loved one suffer in agony through a drawn-out terminal illness? Do you fear that you will face a similar fate? Or were you simply inspired by the late Gloria Taylor, who fought for years for British Columbians to have the right to die with dignity? We learned from Quebec that personal stories were crucial in motivating legislators to vote for choice.  

Include your professional qualifications or background, if appropriate. Do you have a background in healthcare? If so, note it. In addition, state how your work has shaped your perspective on end-of-life care. If you don’t work in healthcare, feel free to state your professional background too. The government is asking for the input from people from all walks of life — not just doctors and nurses.

Your conclusion

Briefly summarize the main points of your letter. In a sentence or short paragraph, reiterate the main points you made in the executive summary.

Finish your letter by thanking the Working Group with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba for their consideration. A little kindness goes a long way.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

Did you find this useful? If so, please consider donating to DWD Canada so we can continue to create resources to help you Voice Your Choice.


DWD Canada toolkit: Manitoba's College of Physicians online survey on assisted dying

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba (CPSM) has opened a consultation for residents of Manitoba to weigh in on its Draft Statement Physician Assisted Dying.

We urge all residents of Manitoba to participate in the survey and to send additional comments about the College’s draft policy to PAD@cpsm.mb.ca. DWD Canada believes the College’s Draft Statement and survey have a few critical issues that need to be addressed. 

We have created a toolkit to help you:

  1. Complete the survey (see below)
  2. Submit additional comments to the CPSM by e-mail. Click here to learn how.

ABOUT THE CPSM ONLINE SURVEY:

  • Please complete the survey by November 15, 2015
  • The survey poses a few questions about the CPSM’s Draft Statement
  • Please review the CPSM's draft policy (follow the link located above)
  • For more reference information, please see DWD Canada’s Draft Policy Framework for critical considerations in legislation or regulation of physician assisted death

CRITICAL ISSUES WITH THE CPSM ONLINE SURVEY

There are seven main topics covered in the CPSM's online survey with a series of questions and a few open comment boxes. We want to flag a few of these topics and would like you to consider the following as you complete the survey:

Topic #3:

"Manitobans' right to access to physician assisted dying must be reconciled with physicians’ constitutional rights to follow their conscience. It is also critical that patients know what they can expect from their physicians. 

The following is being proposed for consideration: 

  • Physicians must not prevent patients from accessing physician assisted dying;
  • Physicians must not impose their moral or religious beliefs about physician assisted dying on patients;
  • Physicians are not required to refer a patient requesting physician assisted dying to another physician; and,
  • Physicians must provide patients with timely access to another physician or resource that will provide accurate information about physician assisted dying, regardless of their personal beliefs.

Do you agree that the above requirements would adequately respect the values of both patients and physicians?"

Dying with Dignity Canada strongly disagrees that the above requirements are sufficient. 

If you mark the option "1 - Strongly disagree" the survey will open a box for you to comment on "What additional protections should be in place?" You may want to write in the box that it is unclear what recourse a patient has if his or her physician refuses to provide assisted death on moral or religious grounds. The College must create provisions for the patient in such circumstances.

Patients who are suffering intolerably generally do not have the physical wherewithal to seek out willing physicians on their own. They should not be left to their own devices in their search for a peaceful end to their lives. Such a situation is tantamount to patient abandonment. No physician will be required to provide physician assisted dying against their will, but any person choosing to practise medicine has obligations to their patients. The physician’s right to conscience must be balanced with the patient’s right to a peaceful death.

Topic #5 discusses the processes, including documentation that must be in place for a physician assisted death, including:

"Confirmation that the patient has been advised of and understands the legal consequences of dying by physician assisted dying, including the potential for denial of life insurance or other benefits that may accrue to the patient’s estate or beneficiaries on death."

Of all the listed requirements in this question, this is the only one that DWD Canada disagrees with.

If you mark the option "1 - Strongly disagree" the survey will open a box for you to comment on "What additional safeguards should be in place?" You may want to write in the box that a doctor should not be responsible for informing a patient on matters regarding insurance policies or estate planning. 

Topic #7 asks whether you agree or disagree that "the physician who administers or provides the lethal medication to the patient must be readily available to care for the patient at the time the medication is administered by the physician or taken by the patient until the patient is declared dead by a physician."

In considering your response, DWD Canada believes that if physician assisted death is to be effected by administering an intravenous medication, this should be given by a physician, unless it is not physically possible for a physician to be present, in which case it can be given by a regulated health care professional. 

If physician assisted death is to be effected by consuming oral medication then, while it is desirable that the physician be present, this should only be with the consent of the patient. A patient must be free to take their life ending medication in a place of their choice with the company they choose. A patient should have the choice of whether they prefer to have medication administered or take the medication themselves.

Topic #8 asks your opinion whether physician assisted dying should only take place in health care institutions. 

DWD Canada strongly disagrees. Patients who have a medical condition that causes them to face enduring and intolerable suffering should not have to move out of their home communities to access a peaceful death. We believe that patients should be able to receive a physician assisted death where they choose whether it is at an institution or at home.  

Furthermore, publicly funded hospitals, hospices and long-term care facilities should be required to allow assisted dying on their premises. We are aware that some institutions will struggle with the thought of allowing a service they believe to be at odds with their mission or ideology. In the case of a clash between institution's rights and patient's rights, the rights of patients must come first. No publicly funded institution should be able to deny a patient or resident their right to an assisted death. 

Send Your Comments to the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Manitoba  

After completing the College’s online survey, you may wish to share additional comments by sending an e-mail to PAD@cpsm.mb.ca

We encourage all of our Manitoba supporters to participate and help influence the regulatory process for physician assisted death. To help craft a powerful message to the College, we have prepared an outline for you. Take a look here.


DWD Canada's 2015 Election Platform: A Call for Compassion

The time is tight and the stakes are high. What happens in the next few months will determine how Canadians die for decades to come. 

We need a federal government that will respect and uphold the decision of the Supreme Court in Carter v. Canada. We need a federal government that will protect the vulnerable without creating unreasonable barriers for individuals seeking access to dying with dignity. We need a federal government that will meet the Supreme Court’s deadline of February 6, 2016, so that those who are suffering unbearably need not endure agonies of waiting for relief that doesn’t come.

National Leadership

What We Need the Next Federal Government to Do

Canada’s next federal government must show strong support for the Supreme Court’s decision to allow physician assisted dying. It is not critical that the federal government legislate, but if they do legislate, it must be to uphold the Supreme Court’s decision, not undermine it. We need the next federal government to commit to working with the provinces to ensure universal access to assisted dying for the grievously ill. The next federal government needs to be guided by evidence, not ideology. If they do legislate, it must be to protect the vulnerable without creating unreasonable barriers for individuals seeking access to dying with dignity.

Timing is everything

February 2016 is drawing closer. There are too many people who have already waited too long for the chance to have a peaceful death. A few weeks or even months may not seem significant, but when you are suffering, even an hour can be an eternity. We need a federal government that commits to implementing assisted dying without further delay.

Despite their best efforts, it may not be possible for a new federal government to bring in legislation prior to the February 6, 2016 deadline. The next Parliament should do its best to table fair and just assisted dying laws in a timely manner, without asking the Supreme Court for an extension. 

If a new government cannot meet the court’s deadline, assisted dying can occur without federal legislation. This is a better option than increasing the burden on those who are grievously ill by making them wait even longer for a peaceful release from their suffering.

Background

A Landmark Decision from the Supreme Court

On February 6, 2015, the nine justices of the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously struck down the federal prohibition on physician assisted dying (PAD), arguing the old law violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The Carter v. Canada ruling gave decision-makers until February 2016 to prepare for the decriminalization of assisted dying. It also established guidelines for determining who can access PAD and how it could be safely administered.

When the decision takes effect on February 6, 2016, it will no longer be illegal for a doctor to help a competent adult end his or her own life, so long as the patient is experiencing intolerable, incurable suffering as a result of a grievous medical condition that results from illness, injury or disability.

The Political Process to Date

Eight months have now passed since the Supreme Court’s decision. After months of inaction, the Conservative Government appointed a panel of three to consult with Canadians and report back. Two of the three members of the panel have been outspoken opponents of the right to die with dignity, providing testimony in the Carter case against it.

The Conservative government then released an “issues book” to obtain information from Canadians. DWD Canada asserts that this questionnaire is designed to manufacture fear, not to solicit information. For example, a question about eligibility asks whether someone should have access to assisted dying because they fear being a burden or if they are 16 years old. Both of these situations are clearly outside of the scope of the Supreme Court's decision.

The Supreme Court decision allows the federal government or the provinces to legislate; Both can, neither has to do so. If no legislation is forthcoming, physician assisted dying will be decriminalized but not legalized. The provinces can take the lead on legislating, but this may present some challenges to the right to access PAD if the they do not develop a harmonized approach.

Fortunately, the provinces have since joined forces in an Ontario-led initiative to create their own nation-wide consultation. Dying With Dignity Canada believes that the provincial panel provides a balanced approach to PAD with experts representing patients, doctors, nurses, lawyers and ethicists from across the country.

Where the Rubber Hits the Road

The Supreme Court’s decision was a tremendous boost for the cause of the right to die with dignity, but alone it is not enough.  The language from the Supreme Court’s decision must be clearly defined consistent with the spirit of the Court’s ruling.

The Supreme Court’s Decision must be affirmed, not undermined 

Dying With Dignity Canada has laid out a comprehensive policy framework that applies equally to federal and provincial legislation as well as to provincial and territorial regulators.

First and foremost, we need to ensure that any regime respects the principles laid out by the Supreme Court. This means that assistance to die must be available for competent adults with grievous and irremediable medical conditions who are suffering unbearably. Assistance must be available through the prescription of life-ending medication the patient takes themselves (sometimes called assisted suicide) or by the direct administration of life-ending medication (also known as voluntary euthanasia).

Any regime must also respect physicians’ rights of conscientious objection. No physician can be asked to prescribe or administer medication if they choose not to do so.

Definitions of interpretations of the Supreme Court’s language must be clear and objective:

How is competency assessed?

Physicians make assessments of competence every day. Do we need a higher standard of competency testing in the case of PAD?  We believe that an individual who is competent to make decisions regarding other aspects of healthcare and their life in general is also competent to make decisions about the end of their life.

In recognition of the special nature of PAD, we support the involvement of a second physician who also assesses the competency of the patient.

How do we define a grievous medical condition?

A “grievous” medical condition is one that results in unbearable suffering. The decision regarding what constitutes such suffering is for the individual to make. Suffering that for some people is ennobling, for others might be unbearable. To decide otherwise is to infringe on the autonomy of an individual.

How do we define an irremediable medical condition?

In order to fulfil the criterion of being ‘irremediable’ available options and remedies must have been explored to a reasonable extent and the person requesting PAD must have found them insufficient. It is normal practice for a physician to discuss options for treatment with any patient, and it is up to the patient to decide whether or not to agree to any of them.

The person requesting PAD must remain in control of this process and their final decision regarding whether the offered remedies are sufficient or acceptable must be respected. 

How do we define enduring suffering that is intolerable?

Enduring is a term open to some debate as it includes a component of time. This means that some people might argue that the suffering has to have gone on for some time before it becomes ‘enduring.’ At DWD Canada we believe this approach to be cruel. It is sufficient to know that the suffering has endured for an extended time or will endure for a long time or will endure until death. 

Suffering should be considered intolerable if it is deemed by the sufferer to be so. 

Legislation or regulation must address three critical areas of implementation:

In addition there are three key areas that must be addressed:

1. Safeguards should be reasonable, but not excessive.

Governments must not undermine the Supreme Court’s decision by legislating onerous barriers to access rather than reasonable safeguards. Having a second physician confirm a patient’s competence is a reasonable safeguard. Judicial reviews of every request, or requiring signoff from a patient’s entire family, are not.

2. Nonparticipating physicians and pharmacists must provide effective referrals.

Doctors may decline to provide assisted dying and pharmacists may opt out of filling prescriptions. But they cannot abandon their patients. The onus is on the healthcare provider to ensure the patient’s charter right to an assisted death is honoured.

3. Patients need to be able to die wherever they live.

Hospitals, hospices, long-term care facilities and seniors’ residences cannot be allowed to prevent a willing doctor from assisting an eligible patient who chooses to have assistance to die.

three-major-barriers.jpg

There are two types of risks to individuals which must be balanced:

Risks fall into two groups. Either access to PAD is so restricted that eligible individuals continue to suffer or it is too loose and individuals who choose PAD would not have done so under a more restrictive regime. These must be balanced and mitigated to the extent possible.

1. Risk of insufficient access to PAD

The first is the risk to those individuals who wish to have PAD but are denied it and suffer unnecessarily. This has been all too common over the years and is the reason so many thousands of Canadians are supporters of DWD Canada. This risk must not be ignored. It is one of the reasons the Supreme Court ruled unanimously on this issue. Any legislation must address this.

Any legislation must ensure that the person requesting PAD is not forced to suffer any longer than is absolutely necessary.

2. Risk of insufficient safeguards for PAD

The second risk is that individuals may die before they really want to. This can happen in three ways.

a. Individuals may be pressured into requesting PAD when they do not really want it. This risk is usually brought up by those concerned about pressure on people with disabilities or those with greedy or uncaring relatives. It must be noted that all of the people requesting PAD must be competent adults who are suffering. The individual requesting PAD is a competent adult and we must not devalue their expressed wishes.

Jehovah’s Witnesses currently claim their right to refuse blood products even when such procedures would easily extend their lives. We may not agree with their decision but we accept it as we recognize that autonomy is the cornerstone of our medical system.

b. Individuals may fall victim to a physician who ends their lives without their consent. This is extremely rare but serious. For this reason any case of PAD requires open record keeping and must be available for public scrutiny.

c. Individuals may request PAD during an acute illness which is likely to be short term; This is not possible given the SCC requirement of a condition being grievous and irremediable. Short term illnesses are, by definition, remediable.

 


National Day of Action Toolkit

We're thrilled that so many of our supporters are organizing rallies throughout the country on November 4, 2015. The goal of the National Day of Action is to reinforce to our government representatives the importance of upholding the scope of the Supreme Court of Canada’s Carter decision on the right to die with dignity. 

You can download a PDF version of this toolkit by clicking here.

This short toolkit has been prepared to help you with the logistics of planning your local event. Specifically, it includes:

  • A sample rally schedule
  • Tips on time, location, choice of speakers, sound equipment
  • Rally chant examples
  • Preparation tips, including how to bring people out
  • Tips on dealing with the media, public relations, how to handle your signs and posters 

The community events you organize on our National Day of Action are critical to the multifold and mutually reinforcing approach we are taking, so we can ensure that Canadians can access physician assisted deaths come February 6, 2016.


Voice Your Choice on Nov. 4: Find a rally where you live

No more dithering. No more delays. No pleading to the Supreme Court to put off the implementation of its historic decision.

“Get your act together” will be the clear and unmistakable message we send to our political leaders on our National Day of Action on Nov. 4, 2015. While our supporters spread the word at rallies across the country, we will deliver our demands for new assisted dying legislation to the incoming Parliament.Voice Your Choice for fair and just assisted dying laws.

Spread the word online, attend a rally or host one of your own.

See all events

Election report card: Where the federal parties rank on physician assisted dying

Now we're beyond the halfway point of the 2015 federal election campaign, the major parties' positions on physician assisted dying are becoming clearer. Three of the four major players responded to DWD Canada's request for a position statement on end-of-life chance, and a couple of the leaders have answered reporters' questions about assisted dying on the campaign trail.

DWD Canada has assessed what the parties have (and haven't) said about assisted dying to come up with a grade for how they are performing. Higher marks were awarded to parties who have committed to prompt action on implementing the Supreme Court's decision on assisted dying and to those who state they will not ask the high court to postpone the date when the ruling is set to come into effect (beyond the current Feb. 6, 2016 deadline). Conversely, failing to respond to DWD Canada's request for a statement on assisted dying and their handling of the file in government earned the Conservatives the lowest mark of the pack.

Keep in mind the following while perusing the report card: grades can change because, for all the parties involved, there is always room for improvement.


Conservative Party of Canada

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper. (Photo: Remy Steinegger/Wikipedia)

The incumbent Conservatives have a poor track record on assisted dying, one that has persisted into the ongoing election campaign. After the Supreme Court’s Feb. 6 decision, the federal government waited five months to officially announce it had convened a panel of researchers to conduct a public consultation on end-of-life choice. The appointment of two panelists who had previously testified in court against the right to physician assisted dying raised alarm bells about the consultation’s credibility. And in August, the panel launched its “online issues book” to survey Canadians on their views on assisted dying — however, the documents appears to have been designed to manufacture fear rather than to gather a diverse array of experiences and opinions.

The Conservatives were the only major federal party that did not respond to DWD Canada’s request for a policy statement on physician assisted dying.

Key quote: “This is a sensitive issue for many Canadians, with deeply held beliefs on both sides. We will study the decision and consult widely with all perspectives on this difficult issue.” —Statement to CTV News, August 2015

Grade: D-


New Democratic Party

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair. (Photo: New Democratic Party/Flickr)

The NDP’s position embeds physician assisted dying within the spectrum of healthcare at end of life and they have committed to making palliative care a priority as well. On Sept. 11, leader Thomas Mulcair said an NDP government would work as quickly as possible bring new assisted dying legislation to a free vote in Parliament.

However, Mulcair also said that, if elected Prime Minister, he may have to ask the Supreme Court to delay the implementation of its decision — a move our organization strongly opposes.

Key quote: “New Democrats have been clear that any discussion of physician-assisted death must include a broader conversation about end of life care.” – Statement to DWD Canada, August 2015

Grade: B+


Liberal Party of Canada

justin-trudeau-852.jpg

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. (Photo: Alex Guibord/Flickr)

After the Supreme Court announced its ruling in Carter v. Canada, the Liberals introduced a motion to strike an all-party committee to study assisted dying and provide recommendations to Parliament. The motion was defeated by the governing Conservatives.

The Grits remain committed to striking a special committee of MPs to study the issue, which could further delay the tabling of new federal legislation. Leader Justin Trudeau has not said whether a Liberal government would ask the Supreme Court to delay the implementation of its ruling.

Key quote: “Quebec’s experience shows us, reassuringly, that respectful and responsible deliberation is possible. It reminds us that when political parties set aside their differences in service of the public good, cooperation can follow. Consensus can be found. Even on an issue as complex and sensitive as end-of-life care.” —Statement to DWD Canada, August 2015

Grade: B+

Green Party of Canada

Green Party leader Elizabeth May

Green Party leader Elizabeth May (Photo: Green Party of Canada/Wikipedia)

The Greens were the first federal party to adopt an official party position in support of physician assisted dying. In addition, leader Elizabeth May was a joint-seconder to two assisted dying Private Member’s Bills from Conservative Stephen Fletcher.

The party’s leadership on the issue has continued during the federal election. They have committed to reconvening Parliament immediately after the vote in order to draft new assisted dying legislation. And they have said there is no excuse for missing the Supreme Court’s deadline of February 6, 2016.

Key quote: “Green MPs will support changes to the Criminal Code to allow for physicians to assist death within the framework laid out by the Supreme Court of Canada.” —Statement to DWD Canada, September 2015

Grade: A

(Banner image: Adobe Stock)


Create your own Voice Your Choice selfie video

You can record and send us a short video using just your phone. This guide can help you accomplish that from conception to submission.

1. Think about your message

Before recording your video, take a few moments to decide what you would like to contribute. Personal stories are an impactful way to connect people to the cause and to guarantee that the voices of passionate Canadians are heard. While all details of your personal story are important, this type of outreach requires a compressed version.

Perhaps jot down all your ideas then find a way to condense them into a couple short sentences. Ideally, we are looking for short “soundbites” that are to-the-point, appropriate and dynamic. When making amateur videos of this kind, viewers’ attention spans are quite short, so concentrated sound bites are often the most meaningful types of information to share. Further, short sections of video make it easier for us to edit into a larger video compilation or montage. It is important to take all your passion for the issue and summarize it into a few meaningful snippets.

This sample video, put together by DWD Canada volunteer Andrew S., offers ideas on what to say.

2. Explore your phone options

Before getting started, take a look at your phone’s video settings. The video camera option is usually accessible through the camera icon on your phone. Once you click on the camera icon, there should be an option to choose the video camera which is usually represented by a small film reel, projector or video camera icon. 

Many smartphones have two cameras — one on the front and one on the back. By using the camera on the front of your phone, the video image will be visible on your phone’s screen so you can see exactly what your video will look like. This way, you can ensure that lighting is sufficient and that you are in the frame. 

3. Do a test run

Shoot a quick test run message so you can experiment with factors such as distance between you and the camera, lighting, background and sound quality.  

If you are shooting the video yourself, ensure that your phone is set up and angled correctly. In the how-to video, you will see an example of how to create a stand for your phone using a simple stack of books. Once set up, try sitting or standing at different distances from your phone to ensure that you are in the frame and that your voice is clearly picked up by the phone.

4. Film your video 

Once you are comfortable with your message, your surroundings and your phone’s functions, you are all set to press record. We suggest filming a few different times and then choosing the version that seems to be of the highest quality. Please refer to our sample videos here and here.

Tips: 

  • Have the light source — whether natural or artificial — behind the camera phone. This will ensure that you are visible while sharing your message and that the image or video is well lit.
  • Keep the background simple. Try to speak while standing with a blank wall behind you. A quiet park or backyard is another option.
  • Speak clearly and limit background noise.

5. Check your phone’s settings 

Before sending your video, check the data/Wi-Fi settings on your phone. Ideally, you will want to upload your video while at home and connected to your home’s Wi-Fi. These settings can usually be found in your phone’s “Settings” or "Wireless and Networks” menus. From there, switch your Wi-Fi option to “on,” if it isn’t already. This way, you can send your video while connected to your home internet provider, rather than using your cell phone’s data plan which is often limited. 

6. Upload your video

Please upload your video to YouTube and send us the link to your video. This link teaches you how to set up a YouTube account, if you do not have one. Here's a video on how to upload your video to YouTube directly from your mobile phone:

Each phone’s upload settings are slightly different. Here are some guides depending on your type of phone: 

If you have trouble uploading directly from your phone, you can email the video to yourself or transfer your video using a USB cable (this usually comes with your phone) and proceed with uploading using your computer. Here's a guide on how to post your video to YouTube using your computer:

If you're looking for additional information, this link provides some guidance.

7. Send us the link (and share)

When you're done, post your video to YouTube and send the link address to kelsey@dyingwithdignity.ca. You will receive confirmation of receipt from DWD Canada within two business days. We'll compile the videos and post them on our website as we receive them. In the meantime, please share yours with friends and family on social media and by e-mail, so they will know to voice their choice, too!

Disclaimer: 

By submitting my video or image, you agree to the following: 

  • Your video or image may be shared with the staff members of Dying With Dignity Canada’s National Office. 
  • Your video or image may be featured on Dying With Dignity Canada’s website or social media pages. 
  • Your video may be edited for length or clarity. 
  • Text may be added to the photo or video. 
  • By submitting your image or video, there is no guarantee that it will be used in Dying With Dignity Canada’s campaign materials.
  • In submitting your video or image, you are offering your story voluntarily and Dying With Dignity Canada has no obligation to pay for your submission.