Medical aid in dying

Notice

The Act Respecting End-of-Life Care was passed on June 5, 2014, and assented to on June 10, 2014. The provisions of the Act set out on this page came into force on December 10, 2015. The federal enactment amending provisions of the Criminal Code that deal with medical assistance in dying came into force on June 17, 2016. In compliance with this law, modifications required for Québec are incorporated into the information on this page.

The information on this page does not replace that of the official legislations.

Procedure

A patient may at any time asks a health professional for information about medical aid in dying. The person can then decide whether or not to make a formal request for medical aid in dying.

Patients must request medical aid in dying themselves, in a free and informed manner, using the prescribed form. A formal process must be followed to set the procedure in motion and make the request official; otherwise medical aid in dying cannot be administered.

Here is the procedure for requesting medical aid in dying:

  1. Make a verbal request to a health and social services professional
  2. Submit a written request using the Request for medical aid in dying form available from a health professional
  3. Sign the form in the presence of a health professional. The form must be countersigned by the health professional and 2 independent witnesses
  4. Repeat the verbal request in every discussion with the doctor

Witnesses are not independent if:

  • They know, or think, that they are a beneficiary under the will or that they will receive other benefits due to the death of the person requesting medical aid in dying
  • They are the owner or in charge of the facility where the person requesting medical aid in dying is receiving care or resides
  • They are directly involved in providing health services to the person requesting medical aid in dying
  • They offer direct personal care to the person requesting medical aid in dying

Patients who have requested medical aid in dying are free to change their mind. At any time, and by any means, they can:

  • Withdraw their request for medical aid in dying
  • Request that administration of medical aid in dying be postponed

If the patient requesting medical aid in dying cannot date and sign the form because he or she cannot write or is physically incapable of doing so, a third person may do so in the patient’s presence and according to his or her instructions. The third person must meet the following conditions:

  • Be over 18 and capable
  • Not be a member of the care team  of the person requesting medical aid in dying
  • Understand the nature of the request for medical aid in dying
  • Not know or believe that he or she is a beneficiary under the will of the person requesting medical aid in dying or that he or she will receive other material benefits, especially a benefit with monetary value, as a result of the person’s death

The doctor must then assess the patient’s eligibility for medical aid in dying. If the patient is deemed eligible, medical aid in dying is administered in accordance with the conditions laid down in the Act. The doctor must also make sure that the patient’s relatives receive the necessary support and care before, during and after the administration of medical aid in dying.

There must be 10 days between the time of the request for medical aid in dying and the moment it is administered, if the request is admissible. This time can be shortened if the first and second doctors establish that the person’s death or his or her ability to provide an informed consent is imminent.

When a doctor administers medical aid in dying, he or she must, within 10 days, notify the Council of doctors, dentists and pharmacists of the institution where the patient resides or, if the doctor practises in a private health facility, the Collège des médecins du Québec. The Declaration of administration of medical aid in dying form must be used for this purpose. A copy must also be sent to the Commission sur les soins de fin de vie within the same time period.

Last update: January 30, 2017 1:46 PM

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