Medically Assisted Death Cases Increased by 30% in Canada

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Reports show that medically assisted deaths in Canada have seen an increase of 30% (a total of 1,523 cases) over a six months period.

The most common medical condition in assisted death cases was cancer (65%), shows the report from Health Canada.

The report used data from Statistics Canada, showing that in six months, 1.07% of all deaths in the country are the cases of medically assisted deaths. Other countries that offer assisted death have a level that ranges from 0.3% to 4%.

The assisted death law in Quebec came into force in 2016 allowing 3,714 Canadians to get medical aid in dying.

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor stated that:

“Our government recognizes the importance of ongoing monitoring and reporting on medical assistance in dying in order to provide a national picture of how it is being implemented across Canada.”

The average age of people that chose medically assisted deaths during the latest report was 73 years old. More cases of medical assistance in dying were seen in bigger cities (55.9%), compared to smaller cities (41.6%).

Too Many Barriers and Restrictions

Shanaaz Gokool is the CEO of the advocacy group Dying With Dignity Canada. She is not surprised by the increase of cases, but she explains that the process has many barriers and is too restrictive:

“If their health is already precarious, the longer it takes to get the help they need, the greater (the risk) is that they will lose capacity or die before they’re able to complete their request.”

This report is the first one that has explored the requests that were not fulfilled. Some of the patients lost their capacity to consent assisted death because they were close to death. However, some cases were deemed ineligible, because natural death was not reasonably foreseeable. This issue has been challenged by at least two court cases.

In the end, the report shows that 90% of the patients that wanted an assisted death received it.

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere