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Physician (Medical) Assisted Death

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The Supreme Court of Canada has decided that physician-assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia are no longer against the law.

  • “Physician-assisted suicide” is when a person kills him/herself with the help of a doctor.
  • “Voluntary Euthanasia” is when a person asks a doctor to kill him or her.
  • In both cases, a doctor gives drugs that will kill the person.

The Court has said that adults should be able to access a system to do this when:

  • They have a medical condition that causes them to suffer all the time.
  • They can make the decision all by themselves.
  • They are not vulnerable to being pushed into dying by other people or their situation.
    • Being vulnerable in this way means: You are choosing to die because another person is pushing you to make this choice.  Or, you are choosing to die because of other reasons – like being all alone, poor, unable to support yourself, without people who care about you, or who can assist you to live, or because you are being abused by someone.

To make sure people have a real choice, and also that vulnerable people are not pushed into dying, we have made a proposal called:  Protecting Choice & Safeguarding Inclusion.  The goal is:

To make sure people can choose physician-assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia, but only as a real choice.  This means they must not be pushed into dying by others, or because of poverty, lack of support, or abuse.  Other options must always be provided.  The system must safeguard inclusion of vulnerable persons in society.

The disability community was very concerned when the Supreme Court made physician-assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia legal.  We don’t want people who are already vulnerable to become even more so.

Governments must put more funding into palliative care and community supports.  Without that, we are concerned that people will choose to die through assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia because they don’t have another choice.  We must make sure people with disabilities have real choices to live good lives in the community, secure and safe from harm, and able to live with dignity.

We urge governments and other stakeholders to think carefully in creating a system, to prevent outcomes that none of us want.  We hope the system will promote choice, dignity and inclusion for all Canadians throughout their lifetimes.

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For media support or more information, please contact:

Tara Brinston, National Coordinator, Vulnerable Persons Standard Secretariat | 1-877-207-7418 |


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Twitter: @vps_npv (note the underscore)

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