While Left Out of New Law on Medically-Assisted Dying, Majority of Canadians Support Advance Consent (85%) Despite Incapacitation, Equal Access for Mentally-Ill Patients (61%)

Two in Three (65%) Canadians Agree Only People Whose Death is Reasonably Foreseeable Should Have Access

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Toronto, ON – With the Canadian Senate passing Bill C-14 and royal assent enshrining medically-assisted dying into law, a new Ipsos poll conducted for Global News has found that while Canadians agree with the broad principle of the bill, they’re not on side with some of its details.

On principle, access to medically-assisted dying is not contentious for the vast majority of Canadians: most (86%) believe that ‘there are circumstances when a terminally–ill person should be allowed to seek professional medical assistance to help them die’. Conversely, a small minority (14%) more closely believes that ‘people who are terminally ill should never be allowed to seek professional medical assistance to help them die’. Support is strong across Canada, as high as 91% in Quebec and lowest in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (74%).

Despite a brief attempt by the Senate to include an amendment to broaden access to medically-assisted dying by removing the criteria of “reasonably foreseeable” death, two in three (65%) Canadians ‘agree’ (30% strongly/35% somewhat) with the wording of the final bill, believing that ‘only people whose natural death is reasonable foreseeable should have access to a medically-assisted death’, while one in three (35%) ‘disagree’ (17% strongly/17% somewhat) that access should be restricted in this manner. Once again, a majority of Canadians in every region of the country agrees.

On other points, however, Canadians are not totally aligned with the law that Parliament has passed:

When it comes to access to medically-assisted dying for mentally ill patients, a majority (61%) ‘agrees’ (25% strongly/36% somewhat) that ‘people with mental illness and physical illness should be treated the same’, effectively believing that access should be equal regardless of whether the medical condition is mental or physical. Agreement is highest in Quebec (71%), followed by those living in BC (66%), Atlantic Canada (62%), Alberta (59%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (57%) and Ontario (54%), where opinion is more evenly divided.

Another issue that drew a lot of debate was the notion of advance consent – the idea that someone could leave explicit legal instructions for their medically-assisted death in the event they become incapacitated but unable to communicate when the time comes. However, the issue doesn’t appear to be all that controversial to Canadians: a strong majority (85%) of Canadians ‘approve’ (49% strongly/36% somewhat) of ‘allowing medically-assisted death for those who have signed advance consent, and are no longer able to communicate their wishes’. Just 15% ‘disapprove’ (6% strongly/9% somewhat) of the concept. Approval is highest in Quebec (89%) and lowest in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (69%), where two in three still support the concept of advance consent despite lacking the ability to communicate those wishes.

Additional information including findings and methodology is available for download on the right side of the page.

For more information on this news release please contact:

Darrell Bricker
Global CEO
Ipsos Public Affairs
416.324.2001
darrell.bricker@ipsos.com

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While Left Out of New Law on Medically-Assisted Dying, 
Majority of Canadians Support Advance Consent (85%) Despite Incapacitation, Equal Access for Mentally-Ill Patients (61%)

Contact

Darrell Bricker
CEO, Global
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1.416.324.2001
darrell.bricker@ipsos.com