March 27th, 2018
"The Carter Compromise": Have We Found the Right Balance?

The VPS Blog today offers a legal perspective on the issue of MAiD monitoring with a new commentary in the series " Why Monitoring Matters". Featured this week are the reflections of VPS Advisor Jonas Beaudry, titled " MAiD Monitoring and the Carter Compromise". 

The " Carter compromise", according to Professor Beaudry, is the reasoning by which our Supreme Court balanced "the interests of people who wish to access MAiD and the interests of people who are vulnerable to unwanted assistance in dying". Safeguards, according to the Court, would provide the assurance that MAiD could be introduced without imperiling lives that might otherwise be at risk. 

But safeguards in and of themselves, Professor Beaudry explains, will do little to protect the rights "of those who may have been nudged into dying because the range of their social options has been limited in such a way that suicide appears to be the most reasonable option". For this reason, Professor Beaudry argues that our government must systematically gather information about the motivations and circumstances of people who request MAID. 

"Ableism and ageism are real, harmful ideologies pervading the nooks and crannies of our culture and the impact of MAiD on these groups must be closely monitored if we aim to take equality seriously". 

Clearly, these are not merely matters of academic concern. 

A sobering illustration of Professor Beaudry's contention came to life in a recent media report titled " The solution is assisted life". This CTV news investigation highlighted the experience of an Ontario man named Roger Foley, who has filed a lawsuit alleging that health officials will not provide him with the support he requires to live with dignity, instead offering medically assisted death as an option. 

Professor Beaudry reminds us that "there is hard empirical and conceptual work ahead to strike a fair balance between the rights and interests of everyone". Ensuring that we understand and can respond appropriately to citizens who find themselves in circumstances like Roger Foley, is at the heart of the VPS recommendations for MAiD monitoring, submitted to the federal government in February. Since that time, a variety of guest Bloggers continue to offer a range of insights and perspectives on the critical importance of robust MAiD monitoring.

VPS supporters are actively working to ensure that the federal government honours its foundational commitments in the preamble to Canada's MAiD law by setting in place a robust, inclusive and transparent national MAiD monitoring strategy. We encourage you to write to the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, and explain why comprehensive MAiD monitoring is of great importance to you. The following resources are available to assist you:

  • 'The solution is assisted life': Offered death, terminally ill Ont. man files lawsuit - CTV news, March 18, 2018. Article detailing a legal challenge filed on behalf of Mr. Roger Foley, who alleges that his constitutional rights have been violated by a failure to provide appropriate disability supports. His attorney argues that before Canadians are "considered for assisted death, they need to have all necessary services provided to help them relieve their substantial suffering".
  • A meditation on medical assistance in dying - Policy Options, March 2018. A powerful commentary in which VPS Advisor Al Etmanski endorses the VPS recommendations for federal monitoring regulations. Drawing from a deep well of thought from Canadian historians and cultural leaders, Etmanski cautions "that all technologies promise benefits but [may] have unanticipated consequences, some of them harmful".

Highlighting recent peer-reviewed research and scholarship of interest to VPS supporters.

Avis Favaro, a respected journalist who reported for CTV on the Roger Foley case, has issued a nation-wide call inviting people to come forward with their own personal stories of pressure or discomfort with health professionals who offer MAiD. Any person who has either been inappropriately "invited" to consider MAiD, or has found themselves "cornered", as Mr. Foley alleges, by a lack of options for assisted living, should contact Ms. Favaro directly. Requests for confidentiality will be fully respected.

The Vulnerable Persons Standard was developed by a group of more than forty advisors with expertise in medicine, ethics, law, public policy and needs of vulnerable persons. The Standard is a series of evidence-based safeguards intended to help ensure that Canadians requesting assistance from physicians to end their life can do so without jeopardizing the lives of vulnerable persons who may be subject to coercion and abuse. 

To learn more about the Standard and the many Canadians and organizations endorsing the Standard, please visit us at
Vulnerable Persons Secretariat

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