The Canadian Experience

It’s important to consider the experience of other countries. Canada’s MAiD law underlines just how quickly ‘assisted dying’ can expand, and affect wider culture. The articles below explores how Canada came to change its law, and how the law has developed since the first ‘assisted deaths’ in 2016.

A ‘gradual then sudden’ change

Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) has been available in Canada since 2016. But the law that was passed by parliament that summer was only the end of a process, which was at first grinding along slowly, and then very quickly. This essay considers the events that preceded law change in Canada.

Incremental extension

In the short period of time since MAiD was introduced, Canada’s euthanasia regime has changed significantly. The numbers choosing to die have soared. Eligibility for MAiD has been vastly expanded. Those opting out on conscience have been harangued or harassed into compliance. These developments serve as a warning to other nations considering introducing the practice.

Changing attitudes to mental health conditions

For years, Canada held firm convictions about suicide. It had compassion for those who feel like they want to take their own lives, and did everything in its power to stop them. This is no longer the case. When the new MAiD provisions come into force in 2024, the state will formally endorse the suicides of those with depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and a plethora of other conditions.


Explore evidence on the Canadian experience on our sources page.