Criminal Code (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46)

Act current to 2016-09-18 and last amended on 2016-06-17. Previous Versions

Medical Assistance in Dying

Marginal note:Definitions

 The following definitions apply in this section and in sections 241.2 to 241.4.

medical assistance in dying

medical assistance in dying means

  • (a) the administering by a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner of a substance to a person, at their request, that causes their death; or

  • (b) the prescribing or providing by a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner of a substance to a person, at their request, so that they may self-administer the substance and in doing so cause their own death. (aide médicale à mourir)

medical practitioner

medical practitioner means a person who is entitled to practise medicine under the laws of a province. (médecin)

nurse practitioner

nurse practitioner means a registered nurse who, under the laws of a province, is entitled to practise as a nurse practitioner — or under an equivalent designation — and to autonomously make diagnoses, order and interpret diagnostic tests, prescribe substances and treat patients. (infirmier praticien)

pharmacist

pharmacist means a person who is entitled to practise pharmacy under the laws of a province. (pharmacien)

  • 2016, c. 3, s. 3.
Marginal note:Eligibility for medical assistance in dying
  •  (1) A person may receive medical assistance in dying only if they meet all of the following criteria:

    • (a) they are eligible — or, but for any applicable minimum period of residence or waiting period, would be eligible — for health services funded by a government in Canada;

    • (b) they are at least 18 years of age and capable of making decisions with respect to their health;

    • (c) they have a grievous and irremediable medical condition;

    • (d) they have made a voluntary request for medical assistance in dying that, in particular, was not made as a result of external pressure; and

    • (e) they give informed consent to receive medical assistance in dying after having been informed of the means that are available to relieve their suffering, including palliative care.

  • Marginal note:Grievous and irremediable medical condition

    (2) A person has a grievous and irremediable medical condition only if they meet all of the following criteria:

    • (a) they have a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability;

    • (b) they are in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability;

    • (c) that illness, disease or disability or that state of decline causes them enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable to them and that cannot be relieved under conditions that they consider acceptable; and

    • (d) their natural death has become reasonably foreseeable, taking into account all of their medical circumstances, without a prognosis necessarily having been made as to the specific length of time that they have remaining.

  • Marginal note:Safeguards

    (3) Before a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner provides a person with medical assistance in dying, the medical practitioner or nurse practitioner must

    • (a) be of the opinion that the person meets all of the criteria set out in subsection (1);

    • (b) ensure that the person’s request for medical assist­ance in dying was

      • (i) made in writing and signed and dated by the person or by another person under subsection (4), and

      • (ii) signed and dated after the person was informed by a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner that the person has a grievous and irremediable medical condition;

    • (c) be satisfied that the request was signed and dated by the person — or by another person under subsection (4) — before two independent witnesses who then also signed and dated the request;

    • (d) ensure that the person has been informed that they may, at any time and in any manner, withdraw their request;

    • (e) ensure that another medical practitioner or nurse practitioner has provided a written opinion confirming that the person meets all of the criteria set out in subsection (1);

    • (f) be satisfied that they and the other medical practitioner or nurse practitioner referred to in paragraph (e) are independent;

    • (g) ensure that there are at least 10 clear days between the day on which the request was signed by or on behalf of the person and the day on which the medical assistance in dying is provided or — if they and the other medical practitioner or nurse practitioner referred to in paragraph (e) are both of the opinion that the person’s death, or the loss of their capacity to provide informed consent, is imminent — any shorter period that the first medical practitioner or nurse practitioner considers appropriate in the circumstances;

    • (h) immediately before providing the medical assist­ance in dying, give the person an opportunity to withdraw their request and ensure that the person gives express consent to receive medical assistance in dying; and

    • (i) if the person has difficulty communicating, take all necessary measures to provide a reliable means by which the person may understand the information that is provided to them and communicate their decision.

  • Marginal note:Unable to sign

    (4) If the person requesting medical assistance in dying is unable to sign and date the request, another person — who is at least 18 years of age, who understands the nature of the request for medical assistance in dying and who does not know or believe that they are a beneficiary under the will of the person making the request, or a recipient, in any other way, of a financial or other material benefit resulting from that person’s death — may do so in the person’s presence, on the person’s behalf and under the person’s express direction.

  • Marginal note:Independent witness

    (5) Any person who is at least 18 years of age and who understands the nature of the request for medical assist­ance in dying may act as an independent witness, except if they

    • (a) know or believe that they are a beneficiary under the will of the person making the request, or a recipient, in any other way, of a financial or other material benefit resulting from that person’s death;

    • (b) are an owner or operator of any health care facility at which the person making the request is being treated or any facility in which that person resides;

    • (c) are directly involved in providing health care serv­ices to the person making the request; or

    • (d) directly provide personal care to the person making the request.

  • Marginal note:Independence — medical practitioners and nurse practitioners

    (6) The medical practitioner or nurse practitioner providing medical assistance in dying and the medical practitioner or nurse practitioner who provides the opinion referred to in paragraph (3)(e) are independent if they

    • (a) are not a mentor to the other practitioner or responsible for supervising their work;

    • (b) do not know or believe that they are a beneficiary under the will of the person making the request, or a recipient, in any other way, of a financial or other material benefit resulting from that person’s death, other than standard compensation for their services relating to the request; or

    • (c) do not know or believe that they are connected to the other practitioner or to the person making the request in any other way that would affect their objectivity.

  • Marginal note:Reasonable knowledge, care and skill

    (7) Medical assistance in dying must be provided with reasonable knowledge, care and skill and in accordance with any applicable provincial laws, rules or standards.

  • Marginal note:Informing pharmacist

    (8) The medical practitioner or nurse practitioner who, in providing medical assistance in dying, prescribes or obtains a substance for that purpose must, before any pharmacist dispenses the substance, inform the pharmacist that the substance is intended for that purpose.

  • Marginal note:Clarification

    (9) For greater certainty, nothing in this section compels an individual to provide or assist in providing medical assistance in dying.

  • 2016, c. 3, s. 3.
Marginal note:Failure to comply with safeguards

 A medical practitioner or nurse practitioner who, in providing medical assistance in dying, knowingly fails to comply with all of the requirements set out in paragraphs 241.2(3)(b) to (i) and subsection 241.2(8) is guilty of an offence and is liable

  • (a) on conviction on indictment, to a term of imprisonment of not more than five years; or

  • (b) on summary conviction, to a term of imprisonment of not more than 18 months.

  • 2016, c. 3, s. 3.
 
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