Medical assistance in dying

Learn about medical assistance in dying and the options Albertans have for end-of-life care.

Overview

Medical assistance in dying occurs when, at the request of the patient, a physician or nurse practitioner provides or administers medication that intentionally brings about the patient's death. For example, a physician directly administers a lethal dose of medication in accordance with the wishes of the patient. This procedure is only available in limited circumstances.

  • Medical assistance in dying has been legal in Canada since June 2016 under Federal Bill C-14.
  • As required by federal law, provinces and territories are responsible to comply with this law.

The Alberta government’s role is to provide access to medically assisted death, and protect vulnerable Albertans and respect the rights of physicians, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and other health care professionals who may object to providing this service.

We know that end-of-life care and medical assistance in dying are important, sensitive, and emotional issues. Patients have many decisions to make when faced with end-of-life care or intolerable suffering.

You need to know and understand all the health care options available to you.

Learn about your options

Find out more about end-of-life options through the Alberta Health Services central care coordination service. This care coordination service will provide information on all options for end-of-life care and services.

You can also initiate a discussion about medical assistance in dying with your family physician or specialist.

Physicians and nurse practitioners who are qualified and trained in medical assistance in dying can provide patients with all the information required to make informed choices about treatment, including diagnosis, prognosis and treatment options, and about medical assistance in dying.

Counseling patients on treatment options is part of the role of the physician and nurse practitioner; medical assistance in dying may be an option for some, but there are many other options that need to be part of the conversation, including palliative and end-of-life care.

If a physician or nurse practitioner does not wish to participate in medical assistance in dying, a patient can contact the Alberta Health Services care coordination service.

Monitoring and reporting

According to federal law, statistical data related to medical assistance in dying must be collected and report publicly. This means any written request for medical assistance in dying received after November 1, 2018, fall under the new regulations.

In Alberta, the minister of Health will collect this data on behalf of physicians, nurse practitioners, and pharmacists and report it to Health Canada.

Resources

Alberta resources

Physician and nurse practitioner forms

Pharmacist form

Alberta government resources

Government of Canada or national resources