The number of Canadians resorting to assisted suicide nearly doubled between 2017 and 2019, according to a report released by the Ottawa government. More than a third of those who opted for “medical assistance in dying” cited concerns of being a burden to family or caregivers.
The First Annual Report on Medical Assistance in Dying in Canada 2019 was published in July 2020. It covers the year 2019, when 5,631 Canadians deliberately ended their own life using the “Medical Assistance in Dying,” or “MAID” protocols available to them. A figure that represents 2% of total deaths recorded in Canada, an almost two-fold increase over the 1.12% in 2018.
The report reveals that cancer, respiratory diseases, and neurological disorders are the most common pathologies among those who seek MAID.
To have recourse to assisted suicide, the patient must not only be suffering from a fatal illness, but he must also show that his condition is causing him intolerable physical or psychological suffering.
But this condition was largely exceeded. Indeed, in just over a third of the deaths, the “intolerable” psychological suffering was limited to seeing themselves as “a burden on family, friends, or caregivers.” In 13.7% of cases, a feeling of “loneliness and isolation” was enough to initiate the macabre protocol.
In this context, it is also not inconceivable that a vulnerable patient will find himself driven to suicide by his relatives or the medical personnel around him.
In February 2020, Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, has already spoken to criticize the widening of psychological and subjective criteria encouraging MAID at the expense of palliative care, insufficiently emphasized: “If all Canadians had access to quality palliative care, fewer would seek lethal injection. But instead of developing an overall culture of care, we are rushing towards death on demand.”
What is more, the medical profession in Canada finds itself in a difficult situation: doctors will be forced to comply with requests for euthanasia as Canada does not have conscience rights protections for medical professionals. May St. Joseph have mercy on this once so Catholic country.