Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Assisted death in Canada is on the rise

  • July 16, 2021

Nearly 7,600 Canadians chose to die via MAiD (medical assistance in dying) in 2020, an increase of 35 per cent over the previous year, the latest numbers released by Health Canada show.

At 7,595 deaths in 2020 — up from 5,660 in 2019 — that means about 2.5 per cent of all deaths in Canada were people who chose an assisted death. These numbers were found in Health Canada’s second annual report on assisted suicide, which was released June 30.

The numbers were highest in British Columbia where four per cent of all deaths were attributable to euthanasia. B.C. is the only province where MAiD clinics openly operate, with one clinic in each of Vancouver and Victoria. In Quebec, 3.1 per cent of all deaths came via MAiD while the lowest percentage of deaths by euthanasia is in Newfoundland at 0.9 per cent.

There are fears the numbers will only rise in the future as earlier this year Canada liberalized its MAiD laws (Bill C-7) with there no longer being the stipulation that a natural death must be reasonably foreseeable to be eligible for an assisted death. And in two years time, the procedure will be open to those suffering from mental illness.

From legalization of the procedure in 2016 up to Dec. 31, 2020, 21,589 people had chosen an assisted death.

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, expects the numbers rise this year and in years to come.

“Based on the fact that the Ontario data, which is published monthly, indicates increases in assisted deaths in 2021, I estimated at least 4,000 assisted deaths occurred in the first six months of 2021,” Schadenberg wrote in a blog post.

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