Project Overview:

Canadian Nursing and Medical Assistance in Dying: Synthesizing Knowledge for Policy and Practice


On June 17, 2016, amendments to the Canadian criminal code (Bill C-14) made it possible for nurse and medical practitioners in Canada to administer or prescribe a substance that results in death for eligible persons. This practice is referred to as medical assistance in dying or MAiD. Under Bill C-14, nurse practitioners act as MAiD assessors and providers and registered nurses play key supportive roles. In light of these developments, Canadian nursing policy and regulatory bodies have been working to construct frameworks to support nursing practice in the context of MAiD. This work will continue into the foreseeable future as provinces and territories develop additional legislation and policies. Synthesizing existing knowledge about nursing implications from other countries where MAiD is legal, and gathering empirical evidence about nurses’ experiences as MAiD is implemented in Canada, is critical to informing this ongoing development.

Purpose of the Project

The purpose of this CIHR-funded project (2017-2020) was to conduct a knowledge synthesis of the practice, policy, and ethical implications of MAiD for nursing from:

  1. empirical literature
  2. grey literature, and
  3. primary qualitative work.

In phase one, we conducted a knowledge synthesis of the literature on nursing and MAiD.

In phase two, we conducted qualitative interviews with 59 Canadian nurses and nurse practitioners.


Our partner on this project was the Canadian Nurses’ Association. Findings from this study have informed subsequent policy work by the CNA.

For more information on this work, listen to Dr. Barb Pesut’s interview on Roundhouse Radio’s Middays with Jody Vance

Knowledge Translation

All of the findings from this study have now been published and are open-access. You can access these publications on our website under the ‘publications’ tab. Here are some additional resources.

Moral Challenges around Medical Assistance in Dying

While Canada may have legalized medical assistance in dying in 2016, the moral challenges continue for primary care workers, including nurse practitioners who can legally assess eligibility for and provide assisted death. Read this article from UBC media to learn more about these challenges.

Nurses moral wrestling with the moral uncertainties of MAiD

Have you tried to imagine what it is like to be the healthcare provider who provides medical assistance in dying (MAiD)? What would it feel like to go into a strange home, to greet a patient and family, to start an intravenous line, to deliver the medications that rapidly cause death, and then to bring some sort of closure before leaving? This news story in Impact Ethics will provide a glimpse into this experience.

Medical assistance in Dying: Policy, Practice and Ethical Implications for Nursing

The legalisation of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) in 2017 had significant policy, practice, and ethical implications for Canadian nurses. This CNA webinar reviews some of those implications.

Why people choose medically assisted death revealed through conversations with nurses

Since Canada legalized Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) in 2016, as of December 31, 2019, close to 14,000 Canadians have chosen this option. Read this news piece in the Conversation to better understand some of the reasons why persons would choose an assisted death

Policy Blog: Using nursing insights to inform the MAiD conversation

Since federal legislation in June 2016 made Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) a legal health care option in Canada, patients and health care systems have been learning a lot about what this new practice implies, and what we need to know as a society to ensure that it is managed well. This policy blog outlines some of the issues we should be thinking about from a nursing perspective.