Interior Health fielding more inquiries about Medical Assistance in Dying | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Interior Health fielding more inquiries about Medical Assistance in Dying

FILE: Dying with Dignity.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Dying with Dignity Facebook page
June 08, 2021 - 7:30 PM

It’s been more than five years since Canadian’s have had access to Medically Assistance in Dying and uptake within the Southern Interior has grown with each passing year, particularly since new legislation has come into effect.

There were 353 medically assisted deaths throughout the Interior Health region in the 2020/21 fiscal year, according to Interior Health. In 2019/20 there were 266 people who chose assisted dying, in 2018/2019 there were 175, in 2017 /2018 there were 128 and in the first year, 2016/2017, there were 49.

In an emailed statement, an Interior Health representative said 48% of medically assisted deaths occurred in the community setting, which is primarily the individual’s own home. There were 27% of these deaths in an acute, or hospital setting, 15% in hospice, 8% in a long-term care setting and 2% were in another unnamed setting.

“We have seen an increase in requests for MAiD and an increase in provision, but this has been a continued growth from year-to-year since MAiD was introduced, and is likely the result of people becoming increasingly aware of their choices,” reads the statement from Interior Health.

There have also been recent changes to MAiD since it was instituted five years ago. On March 17, the Federal Bill C-7, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying) received Royal Assent. This new legislation expands eligibility of medical assistance in dying; modifies existing safeguards and adds new safeguards; introduces a waiver of final consent to receive MAiD in certain circumstances; and expands the monitoring regime for MAiD. 

While the patient must still have a “grievous and irremediable medical condition,” a reasonably foreseeable natural death is no longer a requirement for MAiD eligibility.   

Currently, patients whose sole underlying condition is mental illness will not be eligible at this time. In two years, however,  this restriction will be removed.  The Act requires that an independent review determine recommended protocols, guidance and safeguards to apply to requests made for medical assistance in dying by persons who have a mental illness. 

“Since the legislation was amended for MAiD eligibility, the MAiD coordination centre has seen an increase in request for information about the service, as well as an increase in formal requests and in the actual provisions,” Interior Health said in its email.

While much of the world screeched to a halt in 2020 as the pandemic spread across the globe, Interior Health said Access to Medical Assistance in Dying didn't alter its course, with changes focused on processes to ensure staff, the individual seeking MAiD and their families remained safe.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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