According to the latest figures, about 3,000 Canadians were euthanised in 2018. According to the Fourth Interim Report on Medical Assistance in Dying there were at least 2,614 “medically assisted deaths” in Canada between January 1 and October 31.
Although euthanasia was only legalised in Canada in June 2016, it has quickly become widespread. In the 10 months covered by the report, euthanasia accounted for 1.12% of all deaths in Canada. Cancer was the most frequently cited underlying medical condition, accounting for approximately 64% of all deaths.
According to the report, “The percentage of deaths due to MAID in Canada also continues to remain within the percentage of medically assisted deaths provided in other countries where 0.4% (Oregon, USA, 2017) to 4% (Netherlands, 2017) of total deaths has been attributed to a medically assisted death.”
There have been at least 6,749 medically assisted deaths since June 2016. However, this does not include data from the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Some figures are also missing from Quebec. Most people who were euthanised were between 56 and 90, with an average age of 72. Most deaths occurred in a hospital (44%) or in a patient's home (42%). Doctors were the main agents (93%), with nurse practitioners providing the rest.
This is the last interim report now that regulations standardising euthanasia statistics across Canada have come into force.
It is interesting to note that only 6 of all reported MAID deaths were attributable to assisted suicide. Nearly all patients wanted their doctors to administer a lethal injection.
The release of the figures did not create a big splash in the media. But Wesley J. Smith commented in the National Review: “This means well over 3,000 people are killed by their doctors each year in Canada, which — if my math is correct — is more than 250 a month, more than 58 a week, and more than eight per day. Heck, that’s about one every three hours.”
Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge.
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