MAiD: Calgary case questions if MAiD providers can be held accountable

March 13, 2024

Our national federation partner, Inclusion Canada, released the following media release in order to raise awareness of an active case in Calgary where the father of a 27-year-old woman with autism is trying to prevent his daughter from ending her life through medical assistance in dying (MAiD). The woman has been approved for MAiD, and the concerned father is seeking a Court review of the process by which she was approved. Check out the CBC Calgary story from March 11, 2024 here. 


Alberta Injunction Case to Have Implications: Can MAiD Providers be Held Accountable?

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Inclusion Canada is raising awareness of the potential implications of a court case reported by CBC Calgary News on March 11, 2024. The father of a 27-year-old woman with autism wishes to prevent his daughter from ending her life through medical assistance in dying (MAiD), for which she has been approved and seeks a Court review of the process by which she was approved for MAiD.

In response, Alberta Health Services and the daughter have taken the position that the father has no standing to intervene and that the Courts have no role or jurisdiction to review decisions made by MAiD assessors to approve death for persons who are not dying.

“I understand that this case could have national implications,” said Krista Carr, Executive Vice-President of Inclusion Canada, “Lawyers have explained that before a judicial review can take place, judges first need to decide if courts can get involved if a family member has concerns with how Canada’s MAiD law is being applied. This is no small decision. Doctors and nurses make mistakes and are not immune to disability-related bias and discrimination. To prevent judicial review would mean that MAiD practitioners are essentially unaccountable.”

Questions abound regarding whether M.V. meets the eligibility criteria specified in the MAiD legislation. It is unclear as to whether she has an incurable disability, illness, or medical condition, is in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability and has enduring intolerable physical or intolerable suffering that cannot be remedied. Questions have also arisen as to whether she has been provided with the opportunity to access all or any supports or assistance.

Monica Braat, President of Inclusion Alberta and the parent of an adult son with intellectual disabilities, stated, “As a parent, it is unimaginably frightening to live in a country where my son’s life is so less valued on the basis of his disability that access to MAiD is available when there is no right to needed supports and resources; where equity and equality for persons with disabilities does not yet readily exist. Now arguments are being made that death can be provided behind closed doors with no accountability or oversight by the courts.”

Given the rapid expansion of MAiD in Canada and limited to non-existent safeguards, this is simply not an ordinary private medical decision between a patient and their healthcare providers. It is troubling that, as reported, M.V. went to multiple healthcare providers to find two that would agree, even after being found ineligible by another.

As Sarah Miller, the lawyer for the father, is quoted as saying, “If the courts can look at this in the criminal context, the courts can look at this in a pre-criminal context.” This is a critical point because if MAiD after the fact was found to have been misapplied, the person is still dead. Examining the application for MAiD beforehand may ensure life is not needlessly and criminally taken.

Increasingly, stories have appeared in the Canadian media of individuals with disabilities being offered or given access to MAiD for reasons ranging from being unable to access necessary supports, being forced to remain institutionalized because these supports to live at home are refused, or simply being unable to afford the resources or housing they require. There have also been stories of families learning of a loved one’s death from MAiD after the fact when they believed their family member should not have been eligible for MAiD. We are aware of cases where families have similarly been stonewalled in their efforts to obtain information and ensure the MAiD criteria and process were followed after their family member’s death.

Inclusion Canada holds that MAiD should only be available to those whose death is reasonably foreseeable. While Track 2 exists, however, Canada must ensure greater, rigorous, transparent, and independent oversight, such as that of the courts, before the state ending someone’s life, when they are not otherwise dying.