The spectrum of end of life care: an argument for access to medical assistance in dying for vulnerable populations

  • Alysia C. WrightEmail author
  • Jessica C. Shaw
Scientific Contribution


Medical assistance in dying (MAiD) was legalized by the Supreme Court of Canada in June 2016 and became a legal, viable end of life care (EOLC) option for Canadians with irremediable illness and suffering. Much attention has been paid to the balance between physicians’ willingness to provide MAiD and patients’ legal right to request medically assisted death in certain circumstances. In contrast, very little attention has been paid to the challenge of making MAiD accessible to vulnerable populations. The purpose of this paper was to examine the extant literature and resources that are available on the provision of MAiD in Canada. We found that the provision of EOLC in Canada offers insufficient access to palliative and EOLC options for Canadians and that vulnerable Canadians experience disproportional barriers to accessing these already limited resources. Consequently, we argue that palliative care, hospice care and MAiD must be considered a spectrum of EOLC that is inclusive and accessible to all Canadians. We conclude by imploring Canadian healthcare professionals, policy makers and legislators to consider MAiD as a viable EOLC option for all Canadians.


Assisted death Medical assistance in dying Death with dignity Physician assisted suicide 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Social WorkUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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