Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Medical Assistance in Dying

For people living with MS, the journey from diagnosis to end-of-life may range from a nearly normal life expectancy with death from natural causes, cancer or heart disease to a more progressive disease course with severe disability and debilitating symptoms. Medical assistance in dying is a topic that has had much coverage and debate in Canada and abroad.

In February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in Carter v. Canada that some sections of the Criminal Code would need to change to comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Specifically, sections which prohibit medical assistance in dying under certain conditions would no longer be valid. The Supreme Court gave the government until June 6, 2016, to create a new law. In response, the federal government introduced legislation that allows eligible adults to request medical assistance in dying. Bill C-14, legislation on medical assistance in dying, received royal assent on June 17, 2016. For more information about medical assistance in dying, including the request process, who is eligible and who can provide the service on the federal government’s website.

The MS Society of Canada respects and values the autonomy of all persons with MS in making decisions that affect the quality and outcome of their lives. That includes the choice to live a full and rich life in dignity in a place of one’s choosing with adequate and appropriate supports, surrounded by loved ones. The MS Society provided commentary and feedback on MAID. (Medical assistance in dying: A response to the recent report and An Open Letter to Our Prime Minister).