The Canadian Cancer Society recognizes that facing life-threatening illness, especially in relation to pain and suffering, can cause great concern and severe hardship for some people. The Society promotes and supports the need for improved development and delivery of early, active, competent and compassionate palliative care, which includes: expert pain management; skilled psychosocial, emotional and spiritual support; and comfortable living conditions with the appropriate level of care – whether at home, in a hospital or any other settings of patients’ choice. The Society believes that all Canadians should be able to choose the best care for them throughout their cancer journey.
The Society also recognizes that assisted dying is a controversial issue that evokes strong opinions and emotional responses for Canadians.
With recent changes to the Criminal Code, Canadians can ask for medical assistance in dying. They must meet certain conditions in order to be eligible for this assistance, and only certain people, such as physicians, are allowed to provide or help provide medical assistance to someone who wishes to die. People who help someone to die must follow rules set out in federal, provincial and territorial law.
As a national organization, we continue to follow the discussions around physician-assisted dying. The Society’s efforts remain focused on ensuring that dying cancer patients spend their final days with dignity, free of pain and in a setting of their choice.