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Medical Assistance in Dying

Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) is committed to ensuring that our patients have access to all aspects of end-of-life care, including medical assistance in dying.  Medical assistance in dying is one of a number of choices that can be considered in end-of-life care.  At MAHC, patients will receive high-quality palliative and supportive care throughout the process of requesting medical assistance in dying or any approach to end-of-life care.  End-of-life care planning is very personal, and is designed to ensure that you and your family are treated with dignity, being respectful of your personal values and beliefs.

Medical assistance in dying is a term used to refer to patients seeking and obtaining the assistance of a doctor to end his/her life.  There are two ways in which this assistance can ultimately occur:

  • A doctor will provide the patient with a prescription for a fatal dose of medication to end his/her own life.
  • A doctor administers medications to the patient that ends the patient's life.  This is also known as voluntary euthanasia.

Medical assistance in dying can occur in a location at home, at the cottage, at a long-term care home, or in the hospital.  A policy has been developed to guide MAHC in supporting patients who request a medically-assisted death. More information is available in our brochure.

Eligibility

You may qualify for medical assistance in dying if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • Eligible for health services funded by a government of Canada
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Capable of making decisions about your health care
  • Suffer from a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability
  • Are in an advanced state of irreversible decline that is causing enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable
  • Natural death is reasonably foreseeable
  • Give informed consent in writing

Background

Medical assistance in dying is the result of a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court of Canada on February 6, 2015, in a case known as "the Carter Decision".  Essentially, this decision struck down sections of the Criminal Code prohibiting physician-assisted death for patients meeting specific eligibility requirements based on it being a violation of the right to life, liberty and security of the person.  The court gave the Federal government until June 6, 2016 to enact a new law supporting medically-assisted dying.  In April 2016, the Federal government introduced Bill C-14 legislation, where a physician or nurse practitioner provides or administers medication that intentionally brings about a patient's death, at the request of the patient.  Bill C-14 passed through the House of Commons and the Senate, and received Royal Assent on June 17, 2016.

For more information, please visit the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's webpage.  General inquiries about medical assistance in dying can be directed to endoflifedecisions@ontario.ca.

Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) is committed to ensuring that our patients have access to all aspects of end-of-life care, including medical assistance in dying.  To fulfill our commitment to patients, and respect their unique needs, we at MAHC have been working to develop a framework and comprehensive plan for medical assistance in dying at the hospital.