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Criminal Code (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46)

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Act current to 2021-03-23 and last amended on 2021-03-17. Previous Versions

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; and

    • (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.

    • (d) [Repealed, 2021, c. 2, s. 1]

  • Marginal note:Exclusion

    (2.1) For the purposes of paragraph (2)(a), a mental illness is not considered to be an illness, disease or disability.

  • Marginal note:Safeguards — natural death foreseeable

    (3) Subject to subsection (3.2), before a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner provides medical assistance in dying to a person whose natural death is 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, 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 an independent witness 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) 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; and

    • (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.

    • (i) [Repealed, 2021, c. 2, s. 1]

  • Marginal note:Safeguards — natural death not foreseeable

    (3.1) Before a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner provides medical assistance in dying to a person whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable, taking into account all of their medical circumstances, 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 an independent witness who then also signed and dated the request;

    • (d) ensure that the person has been informed that the person 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);

    • (e.1) if neither they nor the other medical practitioner or nurse practitioner referred to in paragraph (e) has expertise in the condition that is causing the person’s suffering, ensure that they or the medical practitioner or nurse practitioner referred to in paragraph (e) consult with a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner who has that expertise and share the results of that consultation with the other practitioner;

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

    • (g) ensure that the person has been informed of the means available to relieve their suffering, including, where appropriate, counselling services, mental health and disability support services, community services and palliative care and has been offered consultations with relevant professionals who provide those services or that care;

    • (h) ensure that they and the medical practitioner or nurse practitioner referred to in paragraph (e) have discussed with the person the reasonable and available means to relieve the person’s suffering and they and the medical practitioner or nurse practitioner referred to in paragraph (e) agree with the person that the person has given serious consideration to those means;

    • (i) ensure that there are at least 90 clear days between the day on which the first assessment under this subsection of whether the person meets the criteria set out in subsection (1) begins and the day on which medical assistance in dying is provided to them or — if the assessments have been completed and they and the medical practitioner or nurse practitioner referred to in paragraph (e) are both of the opinion that the loss of the person’s capacity to provide consent to receive medical assistance in dying is imminent — any shorter period that the first medical practitioner or nurse practitioner considers appropriate in the circumstances;

    • (j) 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; and

    • (k) 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.

  • Marginal note:Final consent — waiver

    (3.2) For the purposes of subsection (3), the medical practitioner or nurse practitioner may administer a substance to a person to cause their death without meeting the requirement set out in paragraph (3)(h) if

    • (a) before the person loses the capacity to consent to receiving medical assistance in dying,

      • (i) they met all of the criteria set out in subsection (1) and all other safeguards set out in subsection (3) were met,

      • (ii) they entered into an arrangement in writing with the medical practitioner or nurse practitioner that the medical practitioner or nurse practitioner would administer a substance to cause their death on a specified day,

      • (iii) they were informed by the medical practitioner or nurse practitioner of the risk of losing the capacity to consent to receiving medical assistance in dying prior to the day specified in the arrangement, and

      • (iv) in the written arrangement, they consented to the administration by the medical practitioner or nurse practitioner of a substance to cause their death on or before the day specified in the arrangement if they lost their capacity to consent to receiving medical assistance in dying prior to that day;

    • (b) the person has lost the capacity to consent to receiving medical assistance in dying;

    • (c) the person does not demonstrate, by words, sounds or gestures, refusal to have the substance administered or resistance to its administration; and

    • (d) the substance is administered to the person in accordance with the terms of the arrangement.

  • Marginal note:For greater certainty

    (3.3) For greater certainty, involuntary words, sounds or gestures made in response to contact do not constitute a demonstration of refusal or resistance for the purposes of paragraph (3.2)(c).

  • Marginal note:Advance consent invalidated

    (3.4) Once a person demonstrates, by words, sounds or gestures, in accordance with subsection (3.2), refusal to have the substance administered or resistance to its administration, medical assistance in dying can no longer be provided to them on the basis of the consent given by them under subparagraph (3.2)(a)(iv).

  • Marginal note:Advance consent — self-administration

    (3.5) In the case of a person who loses the capacity to consent to receiving medical assistance in dying after self-administering a substance, provided to them under this section, so as to cause their own death, a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner may administer a substance to cause the death of that person if

    • (a) before the person loses the capacity to consent to receiving medical assistance in dying, they and the medical practitioner or nurse practitioner entered into an arrangement in writing providing that the medical practitioner or nurse practitioner would

      • (i) be present at the time the person self-administered the first substance, and

      • (ii) administer a second substance to cause the person’s death if, after self-administering the first substance, the person lost the capacity to consent to receiving medical assistance in dying and did not die within a specified period;

    • (b) the person self-administers the first substance, does not die within the period specified in the arrangement and loses the capacity to consent to receiving medical assistance in dying; and

    • (c) the second substance is administered to the person in accordance with the terms of the arrangement.

  • 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:Exception

    (5.1) Despite paragraphs (5)(c) and (d), a person who provides health care services or personal care as their primary occupation and who is paid to provide that care to the person requesting medical assistance in dying is permitted to act as an independent witness, except for

    • (a) the medical practitioner or nurse practitioner who will provide medical assistance in dying to the person; and

    • (b) the medical practitioner or nurse practitioner who provided an opinion under paragraph (3)(e) or (3.1)(e), as the case may be, in respect of the person.

  • 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) or (3.1)(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; and

    • (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
  • 2021, c. 2, s. 1
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