Medical Assistance in Dying
Medical assistance in dying (MAiD) is a legal option in Canada that allows eligible patients to ask for medical help to end their life. When individuals are considering a medically assisted death (MAiD), questions and strong feelings can often be felt by everyone involved, including the patient considering MAiD, family, friends, and health care providers.
Health PEI is committed to ensuring access to MAiD information and to facilitating access to MAiD assessments and procedures across PEI. Patients and families/primary support person(s) are supported through the provision on information and patient-centered care during all phases of the MAiD process.
Throughout the process of MAiD, whether individuals are interested in education alone, or assessments, the Prince Edward Island MAiD team of doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, spiritual care providers, pharmacists and other health care workers are prepared to support the patient as well as their community of family and friends. At any time in the process, the patient can change their mind altogether or put their plans for MAiD on hold.
How will I know if I will qualify for MAiD?
A MAiD provider will meet with you to determine eligibility (whether you qualify for MAiD) and let you know what to expect at every stage of the process.
In order for an individual to be eligible to receive medical assistance in dying they must:
- be at least 18 years old and capable of making health care decisions by themselves;
- be eligible for health services funded by a government of Canada;
- have an irreversible, grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that cannot be relieved under conditions that the patient considers acceptable;
- have made a voluntary request that was not influenced by external pressure; and
- give informed consent after having been informed of the means that are available to relieve their suffering, including palliative care.
Why do people choose a medically assisted death?
Individuals choose MAiD for a variety of reasons. In the setting of a grievous and irremediable medical condition, they may not have the ability to enjoy life (ie. Have a low quality of life), they may feel a loss of independence, they may have physical or emotional symptoms that are not tolerable (or concern about future symptoms), and/or they may be experiencing a loss of dignity.
What is the process if I wish to receive medical assistance in dying?
If an individual is considering MAiD, the first step is to speak to their health care provider or contact Health PEI directly. Once a MAiD provider is aware of your interest, they will assist the individual with education and the application process.
The person interested in having a MAiD assessment will need to complete a MAiD request form. This is a consent form to participate in the MAiD process, and consent can be withdrawn or cancelled at any time. If the person is unable to physically write to sign their name, another adult can sign the request form under the person’s direction (ie. act as a proxy). This adult must be at least 18 years of age, understand what it means to have MAiD, and not knowingly benefit from the person’s death. The request form must be signed and dated in front of a witness.
Two assessments are completed by two different MAiD practitioners (medical doctor or nurse practitioner). It is not required to have family members or close friends present at the assessments, but it is encouraged to include any support people that would help make the person more comfortable.
Can I choose where I receive medical assistance in dying?
Patients requesting MAiD will receive MAiD education, assessments and procedures (if eligible) at a location of their choosing including their home, a home of a family member or friend, any publicly funded health care institution in the community, health care centre or hospital.
Are MAiD and palliative care the same?
Palliative care does not try to speed up or delay death. With MAiD, the intended outcome is death. Any individual can ask for MAiD and still have palliative care and grief support.
What if I change my mind about receiving medical assistance in dying?
You have the right, at any point in time, to change your mind about receiving medical assistance in dying. The physician or nurse practitioner involved in your request for MAiD will ask you at various points throughout the process if you still wish to proceed with the service.
Is there a fee to receive medical assistance in dying?
No, there is no fee to request or receive medical assistance in dying.
Can someone else request medical assistance in dying on my behalf?
It is common for a family member or support person to connect individuals with the MAiD team initially, but the actual request must come from the individual considering MAiD.
To seek medical assistance in dying, you are required to be competent at the time of the request. A substitute decision-makers (such as court-appointed guardians, or health care proxy under a Health Care Directive) cannot make the decision to request medical assistance in dying on your behalf if you are no longer competent to make your own treatment decisions.
What about my privacy, does my family need to know about my medical assistance in dying decision?
An individual does not have to include family members in their health care decisions. The MAiD team can help with family/friend/support person(s) concerns and aid in communication.
Health PEI acknowledges that all health care, including MAiD, conforms to accepted Health PEI policies and standards regarding confidentiality for both patients and health care providers, and is respectful of the patient’s circle of care.