Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Rise in Canadian MAiD cases a sign of things to come

By 
  • October 8, 2021

OTTAWA -- A surge in assisted death requests in Nova Scotia has seen the province put referrals on hold until the backlog can be cleared.

Such a scenario comes as no surprise to Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. He said the increased numbers of people accessing a physician-assisted death is inevitable as the laws surrounding access to Canada’s medical assistance in dying (MAiD) system are loosened and MAiD becomes a standard medical procedure.

“The more you make it easier and the more it becomes part of the medical system, the more people who are going to be put to death,” said Schadenberg.

“We can only imagine what is going to happen after they have their review,” Schadenberg said of an ongoing federal review of the MAiD system and opening the process up to people who suffer from mental illness.

In a statement on its website, the EPC said “the ‘expert’ panel is tasked with establishing guidelines to implement euthanasia for mental illness. Most of the panel members are known to have a pro-euthanasia position, which suggests that the government intends to implement permissive protocols for euthanasia for mental illness.”

Media reports out of Nova Scotia say the province has seen a surge in MAiD requests since the federal government dropped the requirement in March that a person’s death must already be “reasonably foreseeable.”

Dr. Gord Gubitz of Nova Scotia Health, in a statement to CBC, said there have been more referrals so far in 2021 than in all of 2020.

“We are receiving an unprecedented demand for this service,” said Gubitz.

The Ontario government’s coroner service has also seen an increase in MAiD cases, but the numbers show the change in access may not be playing that much of a role in the its numbers. There were 1,875 assisted deaths in the first eight months of 2021, an increase of 24 per cent from from the 1,517 in the first eight months of 2020.

However, the overwhelming number of MAiD cases in Ontario fall under the reasonably foreseeable natural death category, said the Office of the Chief Coroner in Ontario. From March 18 to August 2021, there were 14 cases of non-reasonably natural death.

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