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Protecting Choice & Safeguarding Inclusion

It is time to get past the polarizing views on the morality, ethics and laws around physician-assisted death and work together. 

CACL believes we can find common ground and address legitimate concerns that face all Canadians.

We need your support in calling on all levels of government to develop a system that respects the values of dignity, autonomy and inclusion.

Health care in Canada is about to undergo a major transformation with the introduction of a system for physician-assisted death. As we proceed down this path, CACL is profoundly concerned about how to safeguard the rights of persons with intellectual and other disabilities who may requestphysician-assisted death, but who are in fact vulnerable to committing suicide. CACL shares with all Canadians the value of a health care system that promotes patient autonomy and dignity in end-of-life care. We also share the value of respect for vulnerable persons in the health care system. Balancing these values in a system for physician-assisted death will become more critically important and more challenging than ever before.


Our Community Living Position

Safeguards are needed in Canada to protect vulnerable persons from potential abuses including unintended consequences, coercion and bias.

Safeguards should include at minimum:

  • Mandatory vulnerable assessments for persons who do not have a terminal condition
  • Prior review and authorization by an independent panel or body, to determine: that the decision is voluntary; eligibility criteria are met; a person is not vulnerable to abuse or coercion; and, whether a waiting period is needed.

Read our quick information sheet about the need for these safeguards

Download the Information Sheet (PDF) – English
Download the Information Sheet (PDF) – French


Who is the Safeguard System for? 

CACL believes that it is of critical importance to begin from an understanding of vulnerability. Who is vulnerable? People with disabilities whose request is motivated by one of two sets of factors:


  • Lack of access to needed disability supports and health care
  • Negative self-perceptions about their own disability and reliance on others


  • Caregiver coercion
  • Physician bias

Read more on what defines vulnerability


Our Research on Physician-Assisted Death 

Proposal to Regulate Physician-Assisted Death in Canada

Explore the research conducted by CACL on this topic by downloading our proposal below. Elements of the proposed plan include Core Values; Principles and Guidelines; Vulnerability Assessment in Informed Consent; Advance Independent Review and Authorization; Monitoring and Public Reporting; Investment in Palliative Care and Community Supports; and, Federal-Provincial/Territorial Jurisdiction, Investment, Coordination and Engagement.

Download Full Proposal (PDF) – English
Download Full Proposal (PDF) – French
Download Full Proposal (PDF) – Plain Language

See endorsement for this proposal and/or have your organization endorse

Assessing Vulnerability in a system for physician-assisted death in Canada

CACL’s report on vulnerability reviews research and recommendations on vulnerability assessment, suicide prevention protocols as recommended by health care agencies in Canada, and practice guidelines by the US National Cancer Institute. Read and download the full report.

Proposed Policy Framework for Access to Physician-Assisted Death

Adults may gain access to physician-assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia only on the basis of real and informed choice. They must be free from abuse and vulnerability to lack of support, disrespect, discrimination and devaluation. The new system for physician-assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia must respect, promote and safeguard inclusion of all persons in society, regardless of their disability or other differences. Read and download the full framework.

Read more on this issue in our related Press Releases:

Press Release: Essential Next Steps in Medical Aid in Dying – Vigilance, Safeguards & Obligation

A Call to Parliamentarians from the National Disability Rights Community 'To Pass Bill C-14 to Ensure Constitutional Rights of Vulnerable Persons'

Vulnerable Canadians at Risk with Alberta Court of Appeal Decision

Draft Bill on Medical Assistance in Dying Seeks Delicate Balance: Some Progress Being Made

Report Calls for ‘Vulnerability Lens’ in Federal Legislation for Physician-Assisted Death

CACL endorses Vulnerable Persons Standard to protect vulnerable Canadians in right-to-die legislation

EVP Michael Bach Appears Before Special Joint Committee Looking into Physician-Assisted Dying

Report Finds Current Proposals Won't Safeguard Vulnerable Persons in System for Physician-Assisted Suicide

Federal Report: Majority of Canadians Support Strong Safeguards for Physician-Assisted Suicide

Our Community Living Position on Physician-Assisted Suicide

Vulnerable Persons at Risk of Abuse in System for Physician-Assisted Suicide, Without More Time to Develop Safeguards

Safeguards: What is needed to protect vulnerable Canadians?

Urgent Need for Comprehensive Safeguards in Physician-Assisted Suicide/ Voluntary Euthanasia to Respect and Protect Vulnerable Persons with Disabilities

Finding Common Ground on Physician Assisted Suicide 


Watch our video series on physician-assisted suicide:


Other Resources:

CALL FOR INPUT: CCA Expert Panel on Medical Assistance in Dying in Canada

Federal Panel report on physician-assisted suicide in ENGLISH and FRENCH

Proposed Federal Criminal Code amendments by David Baker and Gilbert Sharpe, endorsed by CACL