Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

At least two places in Ontario have stopped providing medical assistance in dying because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Champlain Regional MAID Network, which serves Ottawa and the surrounding area, issued a notice on Wednesday that it was shutting down the service in hospitals and homes to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 and to conserve health-care resources.

Hamilton Health Sciences, a hospital network with 10 sites, has also stopped providing assisted dying within its walls.

Story continues below advertisement

As the new coronavirus has swept across Canada, hospitals, physicians and local health authorities have been making wrenching decisions about which health-care services to cancel or postpone so that beds and staff can be redirected to fighting COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

In the case of medically assisted dying – which has been legal in Canada for nearly four years – some regions and hospitals are pausing the service during the pandemic, while others have deemed it essential and are loosening the rules to allow for more virtual assessments of eligibility for a medically hastened death.

With its MAID program suspended, Hamilton Health Sciences is offering to refer patients to willing MAID providers in the community, assuming grievously ill patients are capable of leaving the hospital.

“It’s not a decision that we have taken lightly,” said Andrea Frolic, director of the office of ethics and the MAID program at Hamilton Health Sciences. “It’s heartbreaking for us, as it is for patients and families seeking this care."

Several of the hospital network’s MAID providers have already been redeployed and elective procedures of all kinds are being delayed to make room for an expected surge of coronavirus patients, Dr. Frolic added.

The decision to suspend MAID in the Ottawa area was communicated in a bulletin dated March 25 and obtained by The Globe and Mail.

‘Can I take my kids to the park?’ And more coronavirus questions answered by André Picard

“After careful consideration of the principles to prevent COVID-19 transmission and conserve health-care resources, and in alignment with the provincial ramp-down of elective services, effective immediately, we will not be providing community MAiD procedures or in-patient procedures at The Ottawa Hospital,” said the note from the Champlain Regional Medical Assistance in Dying Network.

Story continues below advertisement

“Additionally, our partners at Home and Community Care will not be in a position to provide nursing support for independent practitioners who wish to provide MAiD in the community.”

The Ottawa Hospital and the program manager who sent the notice did not respond to requests for comment.

The Champlain Local Health Integration Network referred questions to the Ontario Ministry of Health, which said in an e-mailed statement that, “the ministry has not taken any action to limit access to MAID as a result of COVID-19.”

“I think it’s really unfortunate. I don’t know their rationale for having shut it down completely," Chantal Perrot, a Toronto MAID provider, said of the Ottawa decision. “I don’t understand how they could not see MAID as an essential service for people who are at end of life.”

Unlike Ottawa and Hamilton, the University Health Network in Toronto is continuing to provide MAID to inpatients during the pandemic. But the network will no longer offer short-term beds to UHN outpatients seeking MAID, except in extraordinary circumstances, Mark Bonta, director of MAID at UHN, said.

The network will refer outpatients to doctors in the community instead.

Story continues below advertisement

“We had to make some very difficult decisions with respect to other services and programs that were put on hold or shuttered during this pandemic," he said. "Given that MAID is something that is listed as a human right for our patients … we recognized it was important that this be deemed an essential service.”

Stefanie Green, a Victoria doctor and the president of the Canadian Association of MAID Assessors and Providers (CAMAP,) said the health authority on Vancouver Island has also deemed assisted dying an essential service.

Island Health is even making kits of personal protective equipment available to doctors who are still willing to help patients with grievous and incurable medical conditions die in their homes, Dr. Green added.

CAMAP sent letters this week to the regulatory colleges that govern doctors and nurses in every province asking them to allow for more virtual care in the lead-up to providing an assisted death while the pandemic rages.

British Columbia and Nova Scotia have already temporarily amended some of their MAID rules in a bid to expose fewer health-care professionals to the risk of catching the coronavirus.

The spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 continues, with more cases diagnosed in Canada. The Globe offers the dos and don'ts to help slow or stop the spread of the virus in your community.

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters.

Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you manage your health, your finances and your family life as Canada reopens.
Visit the hub

In the interests of public health and safety, our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access. However, The Globe depends on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe to globeandmail.com. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.

Your subscription helps The Globe and Mail provide readers with critical news at a critical time. Thank you for your continued support. We also hope you will share important coronavirus news articles with your friends and family. In the interest of public health and safety, all our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies