A physician’s perspective regarding Medical Assistance in Dying in Renfrew County


“Those who have the privilege to know, have the duty to act, and in that action are the seeds of new knowledge.”  — Albert Einstein

I recently watched a paid speaker present views regarding Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) to those attending an event in Renfrew County. With the goal of sharing the knowledge that I have gained as a physician MAiD provider for the past three years, I sincerely hope that the following information helps those who wish to learn about MAiD.

The speaker refused to use the words Medical Assistance in Dying, or the acronym MAiD, and instead used the term “euthanasia.”  In Canada, “euthanasia” implies non-consent and is inaccurate when referring to MAiD. It was implied that MAiD is being “done to” people. This is incorrect. Please know that no one can request MAiD on your behalf – not your family, power of attorney or doctor. MAiD is entirely directed by the competent patient.

Several atypical MAiD cases in Canada were presented – cases that many of us have read about with concern in the news. The speaker suggested that “healthy” people could obtain MAiD just by asking, which simply is not true. The majority of my patients seeking MAiD were not represented in any way by this speaker. As per the Fourth Annual Report on MAiD in Canada, the average MAiD patient is a 76 year old man with metastatic cancer. In my experience in Renfrew County patients are living and dying in their own homes and are surrounded by supportive family and friends. They choose this option due to intolerable suffering and fear the loss of control of a prolonged death. 

When afforded the option to choose when to die with MAiD, many of my patients have chosen to live longer as they are comforted by the knowledge that if their suffering becomes overwhelming they can choose MAiD. One in 26 Canadians are choosing to die this way.

Also of concern was the inaccurate portrayal of how a MAiD death occurs. It is true that a drug that causes paralysis is given, but it is given last after a large volume of drug is given to cause a deep coma. I have never observed anyone during a MAiD death appear to be in pain, nor short of breath or experiencing fluid in their lungs, nor having a seizure nor urinating or defecating. These are the most gentle and dignified deaths I have ever witnessed and nothing like the terrifying picture that this paid speaker presented. His motives in sowing fear in a room full of concerned Canadians is concerning to me, and risks spreading misinformation. MAiD is only allowed for capable adults who request it and meet all eligibility criteria and safeguards. Capable adults in Canada have a right to privacy regarding medical care. Some families disagree about the choice of MAiD, but many of us have chosen family and friends that love and support our choices. The ability to choose the date and time of death has allowed me to witness patients and those they love interact in their final moments of life. These have been the most profound moments of my career. It remains an honour and privilege to serve the residents of Renfrew County.

Photo: Siggy Nowak on Pixabay


  1. Joyce Winfield

    Sometimes when an anticipated natural death is imminent, the family are fortunate enough to be gathered around as the person dies. Is it usual for family to be gathered around a recipient of MAID when the procedure takes place?

  2. Brad Boehringer

    Your compassion and empathy are deep and enduring to not only your patients but all of those that interact with you. I’m proud to work with you and look forward to continued work with you for our patients in the County, from birth to death. MAID is one of the most compassionate things we can do for our suffering patients

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