Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD)

Related topics: Home & community care Palliative care

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Individuals and their families have many decisions to make when faced with end-of-life care or intolerable suffering. It’s important for British Columbians to know and understand all the health care options available to them.

Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) refers to a doctor or nurse practitioner helping an eligible person, at the patient's capable, voluntary, and explicit request, to end their life. MAiD became legal in the Criminal Code of Canada in June 2016 and underwent legislative review and changes again in early 2021, setting out the current eligibility requirements, safeguards, and assessment processes under which medical assistance in dying can be provided to an eligible patient. 

Deciding to have medical assistance in dying is deeply personal. Anyone thinking about this is encouraged to talk with their family, their loved ones, and anyone else who can support them through the process, including the doctor or nurse practitioner caring for them. 

What to expect

While you consider MAID, It Is recommended that you speak with your doctor or nurse practitioner to discuss your suffering and medical condition. Care teams should ensure you know how to address your suffering. You do not have to accept any of the services that might be offered. 

You can change your mind at any time about when to proceed or if to proceed at all.

Step 1. Request for MAID

If you do wish to make a request for MAID and be assessed for eligibility the first step is to complete and submit a Request for Medical Assistance in Dying form to the Assisted Dying Program. Your doctor, nurse practitioner, or other care team members can help you with this. By signing this form, you are:

  • Formally asking to be assessed for MAID
  • Saying you feel you meet the eligibility criteria
  • Consenting to a minimum of two independent assessments to determine if you are eligible

Request for Medical Assistance in Dying Form

Step 2. Assessments

Your medical team or the Assisted Dying Program will arrange two assessments. The assessment process makes sure you:

  • Are aware of all the options to treat your suffering
  • Meet the eligible criteria
  • Are capable of making this decision

Two different medical professionals (doctors and/or nurse practitioners) must each do their own assessment. Each
assessment will include an in-person or telemedicine visit with you. The assessors might also discuss your case with your current care team. If they are not sure whether you are capable of making the decision, or if they require a consult from an expert in your condition, a medical professional with extra expertise in these areas may also be involved.

Step 3. Waiting Period

If you are being assessed and found eligible for the track that includes those without a reasonably foreseeable natural death, Federal Law requires your assessment period be a minimum of 90 days. Those with a reasonably foreseeable natural death to do not have to undergo a set assessment period.

You can choose to set a date for your assisted death whenever you wish. It is common to not make plans right away, and you can contact the Assisted Dying Program when you are ready. You can talk more about this with the assessors.

While planning for the assisted death procedure

  • It may be a benefit to include your loved ones in the planning
  • You will need to make plans with a funeral home before receiving MAiD
  • It is encouraged that you contact your life insurance company before receiving MAiD

Remember that you may pause or withdraw your request at any time.

Step 4. Assisted Death

Once eligible, you can decide when and where your assisted death will take place. You can choose to have your assisted death in your own home, or in a facility setting that allows for assisted deaths. If you prefer another location, it can be explored. You may also choose to have family or friends with you when you receive your assisted death. 

For more information on the process, see the FAQs section below.



Criteria for MAiD

You may be eligible for an assisted death if you feel you meet all the criteria below if you:

  • are at least 18 years of age;
  • are eligible for publicly-funded health services in Canada;
  • can make your own decisions about your health, and this decision in particular;
  • have a grievous and irremediable medical condition that is:
    • you have been diagnosed with a serious and incurable illness, disease, or disability;
    • you suffer unbearably from your medical condition, either physically or psychologically;
    • your medical condition has advanced or declined to the point where it cannot be reversed
  • have been informed of the means that are available to relieve your suffering, including palliative care;
  • are making this request of your own free will and not because of pressure or influence from others.

Your medical condition does not need to be fatal or terminal to meet the eligibility criteria. It does, however, need to be serious and incurable.  For example, osteoarthritis is serious and incurable but is not fatal or terminal.

Being found ineligible for MAiD

If an Assessor informs you that they have found you not eligible for Medical Assistance in Dying, there are a few things you can do. 

You can also request another assessment from a different provider. There is no restriction on the number of assessments a patient can have.  If you wish to seek additional Assessors outside our health authority, the Assisted Dying Program can connect you with Care Coordination Services across BC.

You may decide to accept and explore other care options. You are encouraged to work with your health-care team to create a care plan that addresses your needs in an alternative way.  You are encouraged to create an Advanced Care Plan in which your wishes and plans for end-of-life care are written.  For more information, refer to the links in the Key Terms.

You may request to be reassessed at another time if your clinical condition changes.

Frequently asked questions

Visit the frequently asked questions page to answer some of the questions you may have about MAID.

Contact us

Whatever you decide, your health-care team is here to work with you through this process and to honour and respect your wishes. If you, your health provider, or your family have more questions about medical assistance in dying, please get in touch with the Assisted Dying Program directly:

Local phone: (604) 875-4249
Toll-free phone: 1 (844) 550-5556

Tell us about your experience with MAiD so we can improve our services. Please follow the links below: 

End-of-life care options and MAiD

Other end-of-life care options may include comfort care, pain control, terminal sedation, hospice care, palliative care, and more.

You may receive palliative care and MAiD at the same time. They are separate services, and it is common for MAiD patients to also to be receiving palliative care at the same time.

Learn more about end-of-life care options.