Medical Assistance in Dying – Update
Meeting Was Held On -
Sunday, November 8, 2020 3:47 PM
On the morning of November 8, we had the privilege of viewing and participating in a presentation by Dr. Donna Stewart, on the subject of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD)( also referred to as doctor assisted death).The public interest and legal proceedings began in the 1990s with Sue Rodrigues, and later, Kay Carter in 2011. It was valuable to learn that 85% of Canadians are now in favour of MAiD. (If you would like a more detailed synopsis, please let me know.)
MAiD currently requires voluntary informed consent, the capacity to make decisions about MAiD, have a grievous and irremediable medical condition, have intolerable suffering, and a reasonably foreseeable natural death. One must be over 18, eligible for Canadian government health insurance and be aware of all options. There is a mandatory 10 day “reflection period” after approval, however, the 10 days can be shortened by the doctors or nurse practitioners if the person is likely to die or lose capacity before that time, or is likely to become unable to give the required consent at the time of MAiD provision in an institution or at home.
Some doctors had not been in favour of MAiD, however Donna suggested that some are beginning to change their minds. For doctors and nurse practitioners, there is a Conscientious Objection clause which states that they are not required to assess or perform MAiD if they morally object, but must refer the patient to a willing practitioner. The Ontario MAiD Care Coordination Service phone number is 1-866-286-4023 and patients may use this.
Parliament is now debating Bill C-7 which will remove the MAiD requirement for a reasonably foreseeable natural death. In 2021, the concept of mature minors, mental disorder as the sole reason for the request and Advance Directives will be reviewed in Canada. Advance Requests would allow someone who does not currently qualify for MAiD, to indicate, that given specific end of life criteria, she or he would like to have the procedure. (When I cannot speak for myself…..) If we would wish this, we should write in support of this when public comments are requested next year. However, at the present time we should inform in writing our families, doctors and power of attorney person of our preferred end-of-life wishes.
The presentation was followed by an excellent Q and A, full of personal stories of loved ones qualifying, as well as current members. We talked a fair bit about Chapman House, the hospice in Owen Sound, seen by one of our members, as a caring, competent facility that we are lucky to have here.
The problem is that they will not allow MAiD, due to religious objections of board members and some staff. If you agree, as some of us do, that this is unacceptable in a public service, please let me know. Perhaps we can form a committee to approach the board of Chapman House regarding their religious policy.
If you wish to see the letter that was sent, please con