Most Canadians would kill the pain instead of the patient

  • November 15, 2011

TORONTO - An overwhelming majority of Canadians prefer more palliative care to legalizing euthanasia, according to a new Environics poll.                                                                     

When presented with a choice of palliative care or legalized euthanasia, 71 per cent of respondents nationwide said they preferred investing in “more and better palliative and hospice care” over legalizing euthanasia (19 per cent), according to the poll commissioned by Life Canada. The other 10 per cent had no opinion or supported neither.

The study says that a majority of Canadians “want to kill the pain, not the patient,” said Monica Roddis, president of Life Canada.

“We don’t have sufficient palliative care here in Canada,” she said.

Roddis noted that although a majority of Canadians say they support legally permitting a doctor or caregiver to euthanize someone who has given their consent, “strongly expressed support” is down slightly — about three per cent — from last year.

Support remains highest in Quebec (69 per cent), although it has fallen six points. Respondents from Manitoba/Saskatchewan (49 per cent) polled the lowest.

Roddis noted that the study also pointed to increased concern about elder abuse.

“When Canadians were asked how concerned are they that elderly people would feel pressured to accept euthanasia in order to reduce health care costs if euthanasia were legalized in Canada, a majority of just under two-thirds say they are very (33 per cent) or somewhat (30 per cent) concerned that this would happen, while about one-third say they are not very (16 per cent) or not at all (19 per cent) concerned,” the poll said.

Since 2009, the proportion who are not concerned has fallen five points while concern has been up seven points.

Concern was highest in Quebec (75 per cent) and lowest in British Columbia (52 per cent.)

“Majorities across all regions express concern that the legalization of euthanasia would lead to a significant number of the sick, disabled or elderly being euthanized without their consent,” the study said.

Meanwhile, the poll suggested that opinion is divided on the question of legalizing euthanasia for terminally ill or severely disabled infants if there is a request and consent from the parents.

Twenty-nine per cent of respondents “strongly” oppose this proposition and 20 per cent “somewhat oppose it. Thirty per cent “somewhat” support it compared to 15 per cent who “strongly” support it.

After respondents were provided more information about euthanasia in previous questions, they were asked again if they supported or opposed its legalization in Canada. Twenty-three per cent “strongly” oppose it and 15 per cent “somewhat” oppose it. Nineteen per cent said they “strongly” support it and 38 per cent said they “somewhat” support it.

Roddis said this change shows more information needs to be disseminated about alternatives to euthanasia.

A common misconception is that people assume “if we don’t have euthanasia, everyone will die in severe pain,” she said.

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