Updated CHPCA Position Statement on Medical Assistance in Dying to Improve Clarity and Reflect Current Legislation

The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) is publishing its updated position statement on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) to reflect new legislation impacting MAiD enacted after June 2019, to improve the clarity of its position, and to update the definition of palliative care adopted by CHPCA. The updated position statement, approved and adopted by the CHPCA Board of Directors, remains consistent with the intent, foundations, and spirit of CHPCA’s previous position statement on MAiD published in 2019.  

CHPCA now adopts the consensus-based definition of palliative care developed by the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC) in 2018, in consultation with over 400 IAHPC members from 88 countries, including Canada. The World Health Organization (WHO) definition of palliative care that was previously adopted, while still widely used and referenced, is no longer published on the WHO website, and therefore no longer easily accessible to the public. The IAHPC definition of palliative care is publicly available and includes all the key points from the WHO definition of palliative care adopted in 2019, with additional descriptors that provide a more comprehensive view of the practice of palliative care.  

Overview of CHPCA Key Messages on its Position Statement on MAiD 

CHPCA continues to advocate for accessible, comprehensive, and timely quality hospice palliative care for anyone in Canada with a life-limiting illness, regardless of their end-of-life choice, including MAiD. CHPCA, along with the United Nations and the WHO, recognizes palliative health services as a human right under the human right to health. Therefore, we believe that no one should choose to seek MAiD due to a lack of access to hospice palliative care. In alignment with the internationally recognized IAHPC definition of palliative care, CHPCA does not promote or oppose any practices that seek to hasten or postpone death, as they definitionally fall outside of the scope of palliative care and therefore outside the scope of our mission. Hospice palliative care must remain focused on providing holistic, person-centred care through effective symptom management, psychological, social, and spiritual interventions, while also meeting individual cultural needs to help people live as well as they can until their death. Individuals working in hospice palliative care who do not wish to participate directly or indirectly in MAiD should have their integrity and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of conscience, protected.  

Click here to read CHPCA’s updated position statement on MAiD.  

An archived copy of CHPCA’s 2019 position statements on MAiD remains available on CHPCA’s website for reference and transparency.