March 7th, 2018
The VPS Community Remains Vigilant and Engaged, as Pressure Mounts for a More Robust MAiD Monitoring Regime

The diverse community of concerned citizens, professional associations and civil society organizations that formed in 2016 in support of the Vulnerable Persons Standard, has reconvened. Doctors, ethicists, lawyers and advocates from many distinct perspectives are deeply concerned about the impact and the trajectory for medically-assisted death in Canada. 

"MAiD introduces a new role for all physicians but particularly family physicians, in a highly complex and ambiguous area related to the health care of some of their most vulnerable patients - these circumstances call for very high levels of vigilance", cautioned Dr. Bill Sullivan, an Advisor to the Vulnerable Persons Standard. 

This week, Advisors to the VPS released a comprehensive report, " Towards a More Robust Monitoring Regime for Medical Assistance in Dying; Submission to The Federal Minister of Health", following their review of long-awaited draft regulations proposed for a pan-Canadian system of monitoring Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD). The submission highlights critical omissions from the government's proposal that fail to comply with the Vulnerable Persons Standard and in fact undermine the government's own commitments in the preamble to Canada's MAID law.

Representatives from a wide range of national, provincial and community organizations that support the Vulnerable Persons Standard, along with the experts and practitioners who actively shaped the Standard, are now calling on the Minister of Health to ensure effective oversight and robust monitoring for MAiD. 

"This is a time for careful reflection and deliberation - a time to step back from the highly polarized debates. Our focus must be on the evidence and careful judgment. The VPS community is well positioned to model leadership and  make a constructive contribution at this critical phase. And the VPS has the skills, the experience and the commitment to do so", affirmed VPS Advisor Mary Shariff. 

The VPS will continue to spotlight the issue of MAiD monitoring in a new Blog series featuring a variety of individual perspectives on "Why Monitoring Matters". This week's featured column, by VPS advisor Catherine Frazee, is titled " How to Listen: Monitoring 101". In it, Professor Frazee elaborates on the "insights to be gleaned from a responsible approach to monitoring our national MAiD ecology". She argues that "good monitoring is simply an institutional practice of responsible listening", and sets out four simple guidelines to bring the government's regulations in line with the VPS.

Members of the VPS community are encouraged to make their views known, as the government moves to finalize its regulations for a National MAiD monitoring system. Watch for updates in the coming weeks, as we follow closely to ensure that the core principles of the Vulnerable Persons Standard are upheld in law, policy and clinical practice. 

If you support the VPS recommendations for monitoring MAiD, write to the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, and tell her why the regulations must be more robust and how the VPS recommendations can help to protect persons in vulnerable circumstances. 

We have assisted death. Now we need to get the facts about it, by Dr. Harvey Schipper - National Post, February 9, 2018. A prominent Canadian physician and educator emphasizes that "it is crucial to collect more data on the Canadians who have requested medically assisted suicides and the conditions for which they were granted."

Highlighting recent peer-reviewed research and scholarship of interest to VPS supporters.
  • Bach, M. (2017). Inclusive citizenship: refusing the construction of "cognitive foreigners" in neo-liberal times. Research and Practice in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 4(1), 4-25. 
  • Stahle, F. (2017). Moral Disengagement - Mechanisms Propelling the Euthanasia/PAS Movement. Journal of Ethics in Mental Health, 10. 
  • I.Tuffrey-Wijne, L.Curfs, I.Finlay, S.Hollins. Euthanasia and assisted suicide for people with an intellectual disability and/or autism spectrum disorder: an examination of nine relevant euthanasia cases in the Netherlands (2012-2016). Forthcoming in BMC Medical Ethics

It is estimated that over 3000 Canadians have died as a result of MAiD since the practice became legal in Canada. Nothing is known about the conditions in which these patients lived, about alternative care options that might have relieved their suffering, or about the underlying circumstances that motivated their requests for MAiD.

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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