FACT: Another 2018 report, written by Palliative Care Australia following a study tour of Canada and Oregon, found no evidence to suggest that people access voluntary assisted dying because palliative care services were inadequate. 

Palliative Care Australia Board members and CEO had meetings between 1 October and 13 October 2018 with “various associations, health services and individuals, as well as information obtained through attendance at selected sessions at the Montreal International Palliative Care Conference that related to the implementation of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) in Canada.”

The aim of their visit to Canada and the United States was to: “To identify the impact on palliative care services, policy and funding and patients at the end of life of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) in Canada and physician assisted dying in Quebec, as well as the Death with Dignity Act (1997) in Oregon. The delegation were primarily seeking to understand the lessons Australia can learn from the implementation of assisted dying in these two countries regarding the impact on palliative care, and on patients at the end of their life.”

The report of the visit states:

“Access to MAID does not appear to be linked to availability of palliative care services.”

It also states:

“There was initially fracturing of relationships within the palliative care community, but this has improved over the last two years. All people interviewed in Canada reported a change to palliative care services since MAID introduction. Some described it as a seismic shift for palliative care. The same was described in the US State of California – “it changed quickly, hospice is a different organisation from day one to now”.

“We heard multiple reports that supporters and objectors then realised they had more in common than no, and then started to coalesce around commonalities.”

Read the full report here: Palliative Care Australia 2018, Reflections and Learnings – Assisted dying in Canada and the United States, Canberra