As of June 6, 2016, medical practitioners and nurse practitioners in the NWT are allowed to provide medical assistance in dying.
Our priority is to protect both patients and health care providers involved in medical assistance in dying. Medical Assistance in Dying Interim Guidelines have been developed to ensure this service is provided in a safe, fair and consistent manner in the Northwest Territories.
To access this service, a person must meet ALL of the following criteria:
- Be eligible for NWT health services;
- Be at least 18 years of age and capable of making decisions with respect to their health;
- Have a “grievous and irremediable medical condition”:
- Have a serious and incurable illness, disease, or disability;
- Be in an advanced state of decline that cannot be reversed; AND
- Be experiencing constant and unbearable suffering that cannot be relieved in any way that they consider acceptable;
- Make a voluntary request for medical assistance in dying, without pressure or influence from anyone else; AND
- Give informed consent to receive medical assistance in dying after being informed of other options to help their suffering.
Safeguards have been created to protect patients and health care providers. Some of these safeguards include:
- Assessments by two independent practitioners to ensure the patient meets the eligibility criteria;
- Informing the patient of the alternatives to medical assistance in dying;
- Ensuring the patient expressly consents to medical assistance in dying; and
- Where the patient’s natural death is not near, requiring a mandatory assessment period before medical assistance in dying is provided.
The NWT’s Interim Guidelines are available here:
How do I access medical assistance in dying?
- Talk to your health care provider about your options for treatment and care. If there is no health care provider in your community, you can discuss your options with one by distance, such as through Telehealth.
- While some health care providers may choose not to be involved with medical assistance in dying, they are required to provide you with contact information for the Central Coordinating Service so that you can be connected with a willing medical practitioner or nurse practitioner (practitioner).
- If you have questions about medical assistance in dying or need access to a practitioner who is willing to participate in the medical assistance in dying process, call the Central Coordinating Service:
NWT Central Coordinating Service
Toll Free at 1-833-492-0131
Monday - Friday: 9:00am - 5:00pm
How do I request medical assistance in dying?
You must have been told by a practitioner that you have a “grievous and irremediable medical condition” before you can make a formal request for medical assistance in dying.
Once you have been informed by a practitioner that you have a “grievous and irremediable medical condition,” you can formally request medical assistance in dying by completing a Form 1 – Formal Written Request and providing it to a practitioner.
If you need access to a practitioner who can assist you with this process, contact the Central Coordinating Service.
Once you make a formal written request, a practitioner will assess you to see if you are eligible.
More information on medical assistance in dying can be found here: