- What is medical assistance in dying?
- How to start the process
- Who is eligible?
- What is the process?
- Other resources
Talk with your health care provider about medical assistance in dying. They can provide information about palliative care and other end-of-life care options.
What is medical assistance in dying?
Medical assistance in dying provides the option to end a life with the help of a doctor or a nurse practitioner. At a patient’s request, an authorized health professional can provide or administer medication. This medication intentionally ends a patient’s life. It is only an option for those experiencing intolerable suffering due to a serious and incurable medical condition.
You can expect to be treated with respect as health professionals provide you with information on how to access this service.
In Canada, medical assistance in dying is legal as long as it follows federal laws. Doctors and nurse practitioners providing this assistance have to comply with the rules set out in the Criminal Code. All applicable territorial laws, rules and policies must be followed. Doctors must follow the standards of the Yukon Medical Council. Nurse practitioners must follow the standards of practice of Yukon Registered Nurses Association.
All Yukoners living with incurable, life-threatening illness have access to other options. These options include palliative care. Palliative care aims to:
- relieve suffering;
- improve quality of life; and
- preserve a person's dignity throughout the natural dying process.
How to start the process
If you're interested in medical assistance in dying talk with your health professional. This can include your family doctor, specialist or a nurse practitioner. Doctors or nurse practitioners can discuss the options available to you. They can also refer you to another medical practitioner who can help.
You can also seek referrals or further assistance from your Community Health Centre nurse. They can direct you to the best possible resources. They can refer you to:
- the next visiting doctor;
- the resident nurse practitioners; or
- a medical professional in Whitehorse.
Compassionate and respectful treatment is at the heart of any assisted dying request.
Who is eligible?
You can access medical assistance in dying if you're:
- with Yukon Health Insurance Plan;
- at least 18 years of age and capable of making decisions about your health;
- making a voluntary request for medical assistance in dying that was not made as a result of external pressure;
- giving informed consent to receive medical assistance in dying (this means you made the decision knowing all available options to relieve your suffering, including palliative care services); and
- living with a grievous and irremediable medical condition, which means:
- you have a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability;
- you're in an advanced state of decline that cannot be reversed;
- you experience unbearable physical or mental suffering from your illness, disease, disability or state of decline that cannot be relieved under conditions you consider acceptable; and
- your natural death has become reasonably foreseeable (this takes into account all medical circumstances and does not require a specific prognosis as to how long you have left to live).
What is the process?
Submit a written request
1. You must submit a request to your doctor or nurse practitioner.
2. After this written request, 2 independent doctors or nurse practitioners will assess you to see if you're eligible.
3. If you're eligible, you have to wait 10 days before receiving medical assistance in dying.
This process ensures that you're aware of all care options, including palliative care.
What forms do you need?
In Yukon, a doctor or nurse practitioner will provide you the forms and help you complete them. You can withdraw your request at any time and in any manner.
10-day waiting period
After you complete your request, you must wait 10 days before you receive medical assistance in dying. This is often called a “period of reflection”.
Can this time be shorter?
Your health care providers can shorten this time if they agree it's appropriate. They make this decision based on the circumstances (for example, when death is fast approaching).
Assessment for eligibility
The assessments for eligibility can take place anytime after you submit your request. The timing of the 2 independent assessments does not affect the 10-day waiting period.
You can withdraw your request at any time and in any manner.
The importance of consent
Who can give consent?
Medical assistance in dying can only be provided if you're able to give consent. If you're capable of giving informed consent but unable to physically sign a request, another person may sign the request under your express direction.
Who cannot give consent?
We are not allowed to provide medical assistance in dying if you're:
- in a coma;
- not mentally competent; or
- not legally allowed to receive it.
If your health practitioner will not provide assistance
Not every doctor or nurse practitioner will provide medical assistance in dying. If yours will not, they must provide you with timely access to someone else: another doctor or nurse practitioner who can provide accurate information and guidance.
Government of Canada
- Medical assistance in dying legislation
- Medical assistance in dying in Canada
- Guidance for reporting on medical assistance in dying
- First Annual Report on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) in Canada, 2019
Government of Yukon
Talk to your health care provider about medical assistance in dying.