Alex Schadenberg

Ontario’s assisted suicide numbers on the rise

By 
  • January 20, 2021

OTTAWA -- The number of people legally put to death in Canada’s largest province continues to go up year after year, new statistics from the Office of Ontario’s Chief Coroner indicate.

And there’s no reason to believe that will change as thousands more will die in the coming years unless politicians reconsider an effort to make it easier for Canadians to kill themselves with the help of a doctor, said one of medical assistance in dying’s (MAiD) most vocal critics.

“The numbers keep going up, and they will continue going up unless more people speak out about this and demand our politicians step back and reconsider what we are doing as a country,” said Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

While a number of civil and religious organizations such as the Catholic Church have been vehement opponents of MAiD, court rulings continue to drive policy surrounding euthanasia.

Since euthanasia was legalized in 2016 following a Supreme Court of Canada ruling, just under 7,000 Ontario residents have used the MAiD system to take their lives and more than 14,000 have done so across the country.

In 2020 there were 2,378 reported assisted deaths in Ontario, up from 1,789 the previous year, 1,499 in 2018, 841 in 2017 and 189 in 2016, said Schadenberg.

According to the first ever national report released in 2020 by Health Canada, the number of medically-assisted deaths in 2019 rose by 26.1-per-cent.

The federal government introduced Bill C-7 to open assisted dying up even further in response to the Quebec Superior Court’s “Truchon” decision which removes the requirement that a person’s death be reasonably foreseeable to qualify for assisted death, opening it up to people who are not terminally ill. Bill C-7 has passed in the House of Commons but still needs the Senate’s approval.

The Canadian bishops’ conference and other opponents have continually called on the federal government to upgrade palliative care options rather than make it easier to access MAiD.

“The Canadian government must reject Bill C-7 and begin the promised five-year review of the euthanasia law with an open view to what is actually happening rather than continuing to expand euthanasia, making Canada the most permissive euthanasia regime in the world,” Schadenberg said.

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