Find an independent witness for medical assistance in dying

Federal law requires a person's assisted dying request to be signed by two independent witnesses. DWDC may be able to connect you with a trained volunteer who can fulfill this requirement.

Please note that DWDC's Witnessing Program is doing our best to adapt to the changing circumstances due to COVID-19. We are currently managing requests on a case-by-case basis while adhering to public health guidelines and different provincial policies on telewitnessing. Please contact Nicole Curtis at witnessing@dyingwithdignity.ca or call 1-800-495-6156 ext. 28 to see if telewitnessing is available in your province, or to discuss alternative options.

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Canadian law states that all patients requesting MAID must put their request in writing and that their formal request must be signed by two independent witnesses. According to Bill C-14:

Any person who is at least 18 years of age and who understands the nature of the request for medical assistance in dying may act as an independent witness, except if they:

(a) know or believe that they are a beneficiary under the will of the person making the request, or a recipient, in any other way, of a financial or other material benefit resulting from that person’s death;
(b) are an owner or operator of any health care facility at which the person making the request is being treated or any facility in which that person resides;
(c) are directly involved in providing health care services to the person making the request; or
(d) directly provide personal care to the person making the request.

In some cases, this rule has made it difficult for patients and their clinicians to find independent witnesses because patients are not always in contact with people who aren’t involved in their care and their medical condition may make it difficult for them to find two eligible witnesses to sign their request.

Since 2016, Dying With Dignity Canada’s trained volunteers have served as independent witnesses in more than 700 MAID cases.

If you need help finding witnesses, are interested in becoming an independent witness for MAID requests, or if you would like general information about Dying With Dignity Canada’s (DWDC) Independent Witness Program, please email Nicole Curtis at witnessing@dyingwithdignity.ca or call 1-800-495-6156 ext. 28.

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