Physician-assisted suicide: You can have your say

by Neil Pierce

In February 2015, the Supreme Court made a historic decision to lift Canada’s ban on physician-assisted suicide.  With this decision, the Supreme Court has sent a clear and strong message that physician-assisted suicide must be permitted for a carefully defined subset of Canadians. The Supreme Court has given our federal government one year to draft the legislation.


At the MS Society, we first and foremost respect the autonomy and ability of people living with MS and their families to make their own choices about their lives.  From now until October 11, you can participate in an online consultation on physician-assisted suicide, which is part of a larger network of consultations with medical authorities and others with an interest in this area. The panel will then provide a final report to the ministers of justice and health that outlines options for the regulation.  You can read our full news release here.

To help clarify this complex issue, we have developed a discussion framework document about the future legislation of physician-assisted suicide in Canada. While the paper is not meant to be comprehensive, the document aims to promote discussion and consideration of this topic, which may provide insights and resources for further exploration. You may also refer to our Living with Dignity position statement that is referenced in the document.

photo courtesy CBC/Reuters

Not only is it important to participate in these consultations, but we should also be talking about how to better coordinate lifelong care for people living with disabilities and chronic illnesses such as MS. I see physician-assisted suicide as a topic that is ultimately linked to quality of life; our government has a responsibility to provide holistic care for people living with MS at all stages of their disease.

Whether it’s access to home care, long-term hospice care, or end-of-life care, people living with MS need equitable access to a continuum of appropriate, high-quality supports throughout their lives. This means that our post-election government needs to invest in comprehensive support systems for people with long-term, chronic health conditions such as MS. In our ideal world, such quality of life supports would serve to round out the freedom of choice that is so essential when discussing the issue of physician-assisted suicide.

It is a heartbreaking reality that some people live with forms of progressive MS so severe that they may consider ending their lives—which also reinforces the urgent need for advancement in progressive MS research. For some Canadians living with MS and their loved ones, physician-assisted suicide is a deeply personal issue.

I encourage you to read the discussion document and participate in the consultations to ensure your voice is heard.


Categories Advocacy

National vice-president, government relations: passionate about grassroots work to ensure our governments are responsive to the needs of Canadians living with MS.

  1. Fatima Kazmi says:

    I am a 45 yr old woman. Visual artist
    The only thing that helps me is painting
    Recently I list my part time job with no compensation.
    Very depressed
    Still try to stay active walking
    Recently saw my doctor at sunnybrook
    My vertigo has increased i need to getvthe stapes implant out which was put in pakistan 22 years ago so that mri becomes possible
    I dont want to get old with this
    I can understand the doctors should help the very old to die in peace and dignity
    I would want the same thing if I do not get better, can hardly walk now
    Many regards
    Let me know how i can help with my paintings
    Fatima Kazmi

  2. Shawna Henley says:

    I believe that this law should be passed.
    I fully agree that every individual’s life is meant to be their own, and if a disease as horrible as MS has robbed them of their quality to enjoy or live a happy and fruitful life, then they should be able to have options like this.

  3. Frances Johnson says:

    I fully agree with Assisted suicide .. not only for those with MS.. but, for all of us who are suffering with incurable conditions. We do the humane thing and put our beloved animals to sleep when they are in pain and no longer can live a full life.. BUT, we as Humans are NOT given this right. Why let us suffer when in the long run we will die anyway? I would want this for me and my Hubby. Tks.

  4. Joyce says:

    There is no dignity of dying; no matter if it is a natural death or physician assisted suicide. I personally against any forms of suicide; we don’t choose our births; why we choose our deaths.
    MS is an autoimmune disease; I believe it can be cured one day. I think there are so many diseases in our society; MS is just one of them. If medical researchers put more efforts with government and private companies provide the funding. It might be a better solution for long run in term of human races.
    It is always easy to die than survive.

  5. Lindsay says:

    Am in total agreement with the supreme court’s decision. Assisted suicide is not about depression. It is about quality of life, now and in the future. I have a dear friend of mine, interestingly referred to me many years ago by the MS Society, who is planning her demise as we speak. She has asked me to be there with her in the end. You know something? I did not hestiate to say yes and have not had any qualms about my decision since. Her doctor knows also. I look forward to being there when she takes that final step to release her from her pain and I am honoured that she thinks so much of me that she would ask.

    I await her call and will bring cookies.

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