Canada now leads the world in using assisted suicide to kill this vulnerable group

While Canada has not practiced capital punishment for over 61 years, it has initiated a program to euthanize prisoners utilizing its Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) law. MAID is Canada’s program to permit euthanasia and assisted suicide for, as AP News describes it, people with serious disabilities to choose to be killed in the absence of any other medical issue.” 

Canada’s euthanasia and assisted suicide laws are among the world’s most permissive and are set to expand in 2024 to people with mental disabilities.  

Because of this, Canada is now the international leader in euthanizing prisoners. While the raw numbers are low, only nine prisoners as of March 2022, they far exceed Belgium, which euthanized its first prisoner this year. Statistically important also, the first three prisoners euthanized in shackles were all Indigenous Canadians.  

Thirty-two percent of the prison population are Indigenous. Kim Beaudin, vice-chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples and a member of the Correctional Service of Canada’s National Aboriginal Advisory Committee, stated in a National News story from April 20, 2023, “I’m not in support of (the law) because I’ve always believed there should be hope for them to get out of there…But a lot of people have given up; a lot of Indigenous people have given up inside.”

Ivan Zinger, the Correctional Investigator of Canada, also stated that the use of MAID in any Canadian prison is “ethically wrong” and “Corrections should not be in the business of shortening the lives of individuals under their roof.”

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Human rights advocates suspect prisoners will use MAID as a way to escape their miserable conditions. “James” is a Canadian prisoner and contributed to Dying with a Smile, Just Knowing that Somebody’s Listened to Me”: End-Of-Life Care and Medical Assistance in Dying in Canadian Prisons, by Jessica Shaw. In that study, he stated, “Yeah… I look at: if you’re doing a long sentence and you’re never gonna get out, and the parole board’s always turning you down, and your CO and the CMTM parole officers are saying “no, no, no,” then you’re stuck doin’ time for the rest of your life. If the assisted dying is an option, it should be looked at, especially if there’s no chance of you ever getting out.”

Alex Schadenberg of Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, an international organization that opposes assisted suicide and euthanization based in Canada, agrees with Ivan Zinger and added, “Canada must completely re-evaluate its euthanasia law. Canada is heading towards a system of killing on demand.”

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