Assisted death up 31% in 2022

  • November 1, 2023

A new Health Canada report revealed the number of euthanasia deaths in 2022 was 13,241, 31.2-per-cent higher than the 10,092 Canadians who requested assisted suicide in 2021.

It also indicated that 4.1 per cent of all deaths in Canada last year were from medical assistance in dying (MAiD) procedures.

Nicole Scheidl, executive director of Canadian Physicians for Life, is dismayed by how rapidly the numbers are rising.

“I think that it is pretty clear that it is being so integrated into our health-care system that it is becoming the first option offered and counselled to people, particularly individuals with longer wait times,” said Scheidl.

“They don’t have all the options they might otherwise want, or maybe not even being offered to them because they are not easily available. MAiD, you can have it very quickly if you want it in our health-care system.”

Scheidl was in the company of many medical professionals in late October at the annual Canadian Physicians for Life conference in Ottawa. Most expressed concern over “individuals who are very enthusiastic about people having access to MAiD.”

“It is put out there as an almost very glamourous way to die,” said Scheidl. “You have all these things around autonomy, and they are not really paying attention to the vulnerabilities of people in the health-care system. They need support and need help.”

Alex Schadenberg, the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, wrote in a blog post that “sadly, Canada has quickly become the most permissive euthanasia regime in the world.”

“Further to that, a Canadian government committee report recommended expanding the law to include euthanasia for children, ‘mature minors’ and euthanasia for incompetent people by advanced request. Recent stories indicate that Canadians are now dying by euthanasia for reasons of poverty, homelessness, disability, a lack of access to medical treatment and mental illness,” wrote Schadenberg.

“We need a caring community, not a killing community.”

According to the report, there have been 44,958 MAiD deaths since 2016. The annual year-to-year growth rate during that time is 31.1 per cent.

Of the assisted deaths recorded in 2022, 463 provisions were for people whose natural death was not foreseeable. The passage of Bill C-7 in 2021 removed anticipated natural death as a guard rail against approving the procedure..

Another key safeguard is set to be removed on March 17, 2024: individuals who solely suffer from mental illness will no longer be prevented from requesting assisted suicide.

“I don’t think anyone has a handle on how this going to expand,” said Scheidl. “The system is being set up so that every single time someone comes before a physician with a critical illness, or even a chronic illness, they have to be offered euthanasia as a treatment option.

“When you hear from your physician, ‘you can have this surgery or this therapy, but your waitlist is two years, or we can just give you MAiD,’ all of a sudden it’s, ‘I’m going to wait two years with no help, or I can just end my suffering now.’ The individual doesn’t necessarily want to die, but they want their suffering to end, and you’ve put them in an impossible position.”

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