Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD)
In Canada, only physicians and nurse practitioners are permitted to provide a patient with Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD). The Criminal Code of Canada was amended in 2016 to allow these professionals to provide a MAiD service without being criminally charged as long as they follow all applicable rules outlined in the Criminal Code and in provincial or territorial law.
Do health care workers have to provide MAid?
No physician or nurse practitioner is obligated to provide this service. If MAiD goes against a health practitioner’s beliefs, they do not have to participate in the process. However, no health practitioner can act as a barrier against a patient seeking the service.
What are the options for MAiD?
Two types of medical assistance in dying are available to Canadians:
- A physician or nurse practitioner directly administers a substance that causes death.
- A physician or nurse practitioner provides or prescribes a drug that causes death that the patient takes themselves.
Who is eligible for MAiD?
There are strict guidelines about who is eligible for MAiD. The patient must:
- Be eligible for Medicare (publicly funded health services in Canada).
- Be at least 18 years old and mentally competent.
- Have a severe medical condition that can’t be cured.
- Seek MAiD voluntarily (without pressure or coercion).
- Give consent after being fully informed of all available options to ease suffering.
The person’s medical condition must:
- Be serious and incurable.
- Be in an advanced state of irreversible decline.
- Be causing the patient physical or psychological suffering that can’t be adequately relieved.
- Be leading to natural death in the foreseeable future (however, it does not have to be a terminal condition).
How is the safety of patients protected?
There are protections in place to ensure the safety of patients. For example, two independent health care practitioners must assess the patient and agree that the person qualifies for the service.
One (1) witness must be present while the patient signs the consent form. The witness helps ensure the person’s consent is voluntary. As well, the patient must be made aware that they may withdraw their consent for MAID at any time, with no consequences.
There is a 90-day waiting period for patients whose death is not reasonably foreseeable. The patient is asked again, immediately before the MAiD process, if they wish
If an eligible patient is at risk of losing the capacity to make medical decisions, a waiver of final consent can be arranged with their MAiD provider. Substitute decision-makers, including a proxy in a Health Care Directive, can’t give consent on behalf of the patient.
How does a person apply for MAiD?
To apply for MAiD, the patient can either:
- Ask their healthcare provider to connect them with a MAiD clinician, or
- Contact Health PEI directly to be connected with a MAiD clinician.
Then, the patient must make a written request that says they want to have a medically assisted death. The request must be signed and dated, with one (1) witness’s signature. There are provisions to assist people who can’t write.
Who can be a witness?
The patient’s witness must be over 18 and they must understand the MAID process. The witness can’t benefit from the death in any way. The witness can’t be an owner/operator of the care facility if the patient lives in one. The witness can’t be directly involved in providing the patient with care.
Where does MAiD take place?
The patient decides where the MAiD process takes place, in collaboration with their MAiD provider. For example, the patient may choose to die at home.
Is there a fee for MAiD?
No, there is no fee for MAiD.