Atlantic Canadians support expanding the law for medically-assisted death, allowing those with Alzheimer’s and dementia to implement advanced directives

  • Three quarters of Atlantic Canadians support medically assisted dying
  • Three quarters also support easing restrictions for those with dementia

HALIFAX, NS October 31, 2019: Atlantic Canadians continue to support a law which allows medically-assisted dying as an option for end of life care, and also support expanding this law to include options for those with advanced Alzheimer’s and dementia.

In June 2016, federal legislation was passed allowing eligible Canadians to request medical assistance in dying (MAID).  Since the legislation has passed, more than 6,700 Canadians have made requests for medically assisted deaths*.

Results from the most recent Narrative Research survey show that three quarters of Atlantic Canadians support medically-assisted dying as an end of life option (77%). While overall results are consistent with findings of a similar survey posed in 2016, residents are now stronger in their degree of support (strong support has increased to 42% from 35% in 2016). While support is high across Atlantic Canada, residents in PEI (70%) are somewhat less likelyto support the law allowing medically-assisted dying. Across the population, higher income earners, those under the age of 55yrs, and those with higher education levels are most likely to support medically-assisted dying.

The current law restricts assisted dying for those with advanced Alzheimer’s and dementia. It denies them the right to make early requests for an assisted death, before their condition worsens beyond the point they can make such a request. This is designed to protect people once they enter a vulnerable state. That said, recently, there has been public discussion in the region related to extending eligibility to allow the law to apply to those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. 

With that in mind, this past quarter, Narrative Research explored to what extent Atlantic Canadians support or oppose changing the law to allow for early requests for assisted death.  Findings show that support for such a change closely mirrors that for overall support for the Medically Assisted Dying legislation, with three quartersof Atlantic Canadians supporting easing such restrictions for those with advanced Alzheimer’s and dementia.  Four in ten ‘completely support’ such a change.

“The prevalence of dementia and Alzheimer’s is increasing in Canada, with incidence increasing with age.  Here in Atlantic Canada, we have the highest proportion of seniors in the country.  Given the diseases’ particular relevance for our population, it’s not surprising that public support for a change in legislation is strong,” says Margaret Brigley, CEO and Partner of Narrative Research.

While support is evident across the region, PEI residents are less likely to support the change than those in other Atlantic provinces. Support is strongest among those with higher household incomes, and residents aged 35 to 54 years.

These results are part of the Narrative Research Atlantic Quarterly®, an independent, quarterly telephone survey of Atlantic Canadians, and are based on a telephone sample of 1,500 adult Atlantic Canadians, conducted from July 31 to August 25, 2019, with overall results accurate to within ± 2.5 percentage points, 95 out of 100 times.

Narrative Research,, is one of Canada’s leading public opinion and market research companies. Founded in 1978, Narrative Research is dedicated to providing clients with state-of-the-art research and strategic consulting services. Follow us on Twitter @EveryNarrative.

*This figure includes requests in provinces, and does not include requests from the territories.


For more information, please contact:

Margaret Brigley, CEO and Partner                                                  or Margaret Chapman, COO and Partner

at (902) 493-3830, at (902) 493-3834,

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