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About medical aid in dying

Since March 12, 2020, the “end-of-life” criterion in the Act respecting end-of-life care is no longer applied following the Superior Court of Québec’s Baudouin decision. On March 17, 2021, amendments to Canada’s Criminal Code came into effect that modify existing safeguards for eligible people whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable.

The Criminal Code sets out two paths to eligibility for medical aid in dying: one for people whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable and another for people whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable.

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

The Act Respecting End-of-Life Care is designed to provide a framework for palliative care and medical aid in dying.

End-of-life situations can be difficult. Despite quality care and support given to patients at the end of life, in a minority of cases, palliative caremay not be sufficient to relieve suffering in a satisfactory manner. The Act Respecting End-of-Life Care allows an additional option to be offered to these persons for whom all therapeutic, curative and palliative options have been deemed unsatisfactory and who would rather die than continue to suffer.

Medical aid in dying consists of a doctor administering medication to patients, at their request, in order to relieve their suffering by bringing about their death. This care is available in all institutions in Québec’s health and social services network and in a few palliative care hospices. A person may also ask to be provided with medical aid in dying at home.

Medical aid in dying is an exceptional intervention with very restrictive conditions. The use of this intervention is governed by strict guidelines set out in the Act respecting end-of-life care and the Criminal Code.

Last update: January 30, 2017


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