Canada: Significant Increase in Euthanasia Deaths in 2023

Source: FSSPX News

According to official data on euthanasia in Quebec, Ontario, and Alberta, Canada is expected to record around 16,000 deaths by euthanasia in 2023, which represents a significant increase compared to the 13,241 deaths recorded in 2022.

Quebec’s Commission on end-of-life care published its eighth annual report, which indicates that 5,211 euthanasia deaths were recorded (April 1, 2022 - March 31, 2023), as opposed to 3,663 the previous year (April 1, 2021 - March 31, 2022). According to the data, 15,997 euthanasia deaths were recorded from its legalization until March 31, 2023, in Quebec.

This represents an increase of more than 42% in euthanasia deaths in Quebec in 2023, being 6.8% of all deaths in Quebec, which is the highest rate in the world.

The report also indicates that from April 1 to June 30, 2023, the number of euthanasia deaths in Quebec increased by 24%, a slower growth rate, but substantial, considering the massive number of euthanasia deaths. It’s important to note that 15% of euthanasia deaths in Quebec were not for terminal illness.

In December 2023, Ontario’s Office of the Chief Coroner published MAID data indicating that 4,641 euthanasia deaths were declared in 2023, an increase of 18% from the 3,934 euthanasia deaths declared in 2022.

The Ontario data on euthanasia indicates that there have been 18,373 deaths (MAID) since the program’s legalization in June 2016. To clarify, there were 18,370 deaths by euthanasia and 3 deaths by assisted suicide.

Euthanasia is performed by a doctor or nurse who injects a person, generally at his request, with a cocktail of deadly poisons. Assisted suicide involves a doctor or nurse prescribing a person, generally at his request, a cocktail of deadly poisons that the person must take himself.

According to the data, of the 4,641 euthanasia deaths reported in 2023, 116 concerned people who were not terminally ill, 28 deaths were followed by organ donation, and the final consent was withdrawn in 191 cases. Final consent is voided when a person may become incompetent.

Alberta Health Services data indicates that 977 assisted deaths were reported in 2023, an increase of more than 18% from the 836 assisted deaths reported in 2022 and 594 in 2021. The Alberta data indicates that 3,914 deaths (MAID) have been reported since the program’s legalization in June 2016.

Gradual Shifts in the Law on Euthanasia in Canada

In 2016, Canada legalized what the law termed medical assistance in dying (MAID), which covers the practices of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

In 2021, scarcely five years later, a new law extended these practices to people affected by serious and incurable illnesses which are not life-threatening in the short term. The criterion has become more vague and extensible, resting on the fact that the patient is experiencing physical or psychological suffering that he himself considers unbearable.

A person who is physically handicapped or affected with a chronic illness is now eligible for euthanasia. The legislator had additionaly foreseen that the law could apply to persons suffering from mental illnesses, starting on March 17, 2023, giving time to reflect on the conditions to require in order to assure people’s safety.

A group of experts had therefore been put in place, as this had been provided for in the 2021 law. The latter had submitted a report of 19 recommendations to the Ministers of Justice and Health last May.

They concerned the need for a particular attention to the conditions for determining incurability, the irreversability of a pathology, the parameters of persistant and intolerable suffering, taking into account suicidal tendencies, the decision-making capacity and ability to consent of people confronted with vulnerability, and means of alleviating suffering.

It is in this context and after psychiatric professionals expressed their reservations that the postponement of the application of MAID to people suffering from mental illnesses until March 17, 2024, was announced.

But the Canadian Minster of Health, Mark Holland, introduced a bill that would postpone the implementation of euthanasia for mental illnesses until March 2027. This may be the first sign of a government that will put an end to the expansion of euthanasia in Canada.