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UW philosophy professor urges Canada to evaluate its MAID practices

Eligibility for medical assistance in dying has expanded since its initial criteria in 2016
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What makes a person eligible for medical assistance in dying (MAID)?

It's a question that's been asked repeatedly in this country, and a topic that has been researched extensively by Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Waterloo Andrew Stumpf.

In an article written by Stumpf in The Conversation, he pushes Canada to better understand whether the current criteria required to receive MAID is the optimal way to support suffering Canadians.

In 2016, when MAID was legalized, patients had to be suffering from a terminal, irremediable illness to an intolerable extent to be euthanized. In 2023, patients no longer have to be dying, but they do have to be in an advanced state of decline that cannot be reversed.

An important thing to note is that this does not include mental illnesses, which was brought up by Stumpf in his article, saying that it brings forward another slippery slope if not thought out properly. 

"When [my students and I] start talking through what the main legislation has gone through, who it's eligible for now, the kind of further things that we're thinking about in other jurisidctions and the kind of complications that come up, I think they start to understand that it's more of a complex issue," said Stumpf. "Even if were giving MAID because someone has a grievous and irremediable illness, the underlying reasons why people are asking for it are often quite varied."

Canada had plans to make patients who fit all criteria but only suffer from mental illnesses eligible next month, but now, that is on hold.

Stumpf added that his preference would be to look into better palliative care, as it is a practice that doesn't look to prevent someone from dying, but also helps the person die naturally in the most comfortable way.

"As a society, are we doing enough to help people who might otherwise want to live before we feel ready to offer them the way out of dying."

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