Frequently Asked Questions

Why do people choose a medically assisted death?

There are often a  number of reasons why someone might choose MAiD.  The most common reasons are:

  • No longer able to enjoy life
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Loss of independence
  • Symptoms or concern about future symptoms
  • Loss of dignity
Am I eligible for MAiD?

An individual does not have to be dying to be eligible but they do have to be suffering (physical or emotional pain, or both) and in an advance state of decline in capacity.

For more details visit our page on eligibility 

Are MAiD and palliative care the same?

No, MAiD and palliative care are not the same.

  • Palliative care does not try to speed up or delay death
  • With MAiD, the intended outcome is death
  • You can ask for MAiD and still receive palliative care and grief support
Does my family need to agree?
  • No, you decide for yourself what you want
  • The MAiD team can help you with your family concerns
Does MAiD have to be done in a hospital?

No.  MAiD has been provided in various locations including a health facility, funeral home, home, and even outdoors on private land (although Parks Canada also has a MAiD policy allowing MAiD in some parks in certain circumstances).


Is MAiD available in every province territory in Canada?


Does having an assisted death impact an individual's life insurance policy?

No. Life insurance and Canada Pension Plan are not affected by MAiD for those individuals who have a reasonably foreseeable death.  We advise Canadians to seek advice from their insurance carrier.

How does the MAiD provision work?

Once the person has consented to go ahead, the MAiD practitioner will often move to a different room or space to complete paperwork and get the medications ready. The MAiD practitioner or a nurse will insert a needle into the vein (IV). The person and those present will be given privacy if they wish to say their final goodbyes. The MAiD practitioners will help those present be in the positions the person would like, e.g. lying next to them, holding hands, in sight or out of sight.

Whenever the person is ready the MAiD practitioner will ask again if they want to go ahead and if they do, they will begin to put the medications through the IV:

  • The first drug deeply relaxes the person, and they begin to lose consciousness. Sometimes the person will mumble something that can’t be understood. Some people snore or yawn or take one or two big breaths.
  • The second drug puts the person into a deep coma. Often the mouth will fall open as the jaw muscles relax.
  • The third drug stops their breathing and heart, and results in death. Because they are in a coma, they are not aware of their heart and lungs stopping. The person will not lose control of their bowels or bladder, and the colour will slowly fade from their face and body.


Even if it appears that the person has died, all the drugs will be given. The MAiD practitioner will listen for heart sounds with their stethoscope and let those present know that the person has died. The body will become cool to the touch and the colour of the body will change as time passes.

It usually takes between 5 and 20 minutes to give all the medications, and for the heart to stop. Many people die in the first few minutes because they are so ill.

Although those who provide MAiD do their best to prepare those present for the sudden change in the person from being alert to no longer alive, some people are surprised by how quickly the person dies. Most assisted deaths have been described by healthcare professionals and families who have been present as painless and peaceful.

Although it is legal in Canada to have a self-administered medically assisted death (where the person takes prescribed medication by mouth themselves), this is still rare in Canada. In many provinces and territories, the only type of assisted death that is available is where the physician or nurse practitioner gives the medications through IV.

What types of MAiD are there?

In Canada, two types of MAiD are allowed:

  • A physician or nurse practitioner can directly administer a substance that causes the death of the person who has requested it, or
  • A physician or nurse practitioner can give or prescribe to a patient a substance that they can self-administer to cause their own death.


The vast majority of MAiD provisions in Canada are done when the clinician administers the substance.

Do all doctors and nurse practitioners have to provide MAiD?

No.  First of all, not all provinces allow nurse practitioners to be involved. 

Secondly, the law respects that not all clinicians are supportive of MAiD and so does not compel them to provide this care. Most jurisdictions require a clinician who does not provide MAiD to make a referral.  If you need support, please visit  MAiD Resources in your Province / Territory 

Does an individual have to have MAiD once they have been found eligible?

No. There is no obligation to follow through and have an assisted death.  Individuals are free to change their mind at any time, including the day the MAiD is planned to occur. 

What if an assessor does not find an individual eligible?

The individual may ask for a second opinion.

I am seeking education and courses regarding MAiD, where do I start?

The Canadian MAiD Curriculum is a nationally accredited, comprehensive, bilingual program supporting the practice of MAiD in Canada. It is offered through a combination of online self-study and in-person facilitated sessions session

If you are a clinician, you can register here.

If you are not a clinician, you may register for Topic 1: Foundations of MAiD in Canada here

If you wish to learn more about the Curriculum, click here.

Much of this content is drawn from the great work by our friends at Virtual Hospice.  View their terrific site at