Defining "Reasonably Foreseeable"

What it does NOT mean:

Our legislation does NOT place a specific time frame around this expression or define it as a specific amount of time. Reasonably foreseeable does NOT mean death within days, or a month, or 6 months, or even a year.

What it DOES mean:

One way to better understand what reasonably foreseeable means is to rephrase it as ‘reasonably predictable’. This may mean that death is expected shortly, and therefore predictable (i.e. a prognosis of short months left to live), or it might mean the person is on a predictable pathway to death due to their serious illness (i.e. a diagnosis of ALS).

This understanding of the expression ‘a reasonably foreseeable death’ has been well established after several years of clinical practice, and is the standard of care amongst assessors and providers of MAiD in Canada.

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‘Reasonably Forseeable’ was further validated during the 2017 case: AB vs Canada, presided over by Justice Perell. In his decision he clarified that:

“…natural death need not be imminent and .. what is a reasonably foreseeable death is a person-specific medical question……Physicians, of course, have considerable experience in making a prognosis, but the legislation makes it clear that in formulating an opinion, the physician need not opine about the specific length of time that the person requesting medical assistance in dying has remaining in his or her lifetime”. 

He went on to say:

“…natural death need not be connected to a particular terminal disease or condition and rather is connected to all of a particular persons medical circumstances.”

So, a person’s death is reasonably foreseeable if they are on a trajectory towards death, without demanding it be within a specific time frame.

Defining "Independent Witness"

A witness must not benefit in any way from the death of the patient. Because of this, they are most often NOT family or business partners, but friends or neighbours. If required, a volunteer witness can be arranged through our office with the Dying With Dignity Volunteer Witness Program.