End-of-Life Working Group provides input on MAID

  • October 25, 2017

Should mature minors or people whose sole underlying medical condition is mental illness be able to decide to seek medical assistance in dying? Should people with chronic conditions be able to make advance directives so that if they are incapacitated their wishes will nonetheless be carried out?

These are the questions left unanswered in the Medical Assistance in Dying law. The federal government appointed the Council of Canadian Academies to study these questions and at the Expert Panel’s request the CBA’s End-of-Life Working Group has donned the mantle of “trusted advisor” to elaborate on CBA policies and identify directions for the panel’s research.

In 2016, the CBA considered the three areas under review and established policies on mature minors, mental illness and advance requests. The CBA says MAID should be available in all three situations. However, appropriate assessment tools and safeguards should be established to ensure that the person in question has the capacity to make the decision, or has adequately consented.

“End of life care issues touch all Canadians, but for CBA members there is an additional professional dimension,” writes Kimberley Jakeman, Chair of the Working Group. “Lawyers across Canada write wills, health care directives and powers of attorney for our clients, who increasingly request legal advice on medical assistance in dying as part of their estate planning. Our members advise health-care providers who are called on to make referrals to, or to administer, medical assistance in dying, and also advise related professions and industries.”