As attention continues to focus on Canada and its rapid expansion of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), a recent report from the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario reveals that the province’s euthanasia deaths rose 27% in 2022.
According to the data, the province has administered 13,372 deaths since MAiD was first legalized in 2016. Of those, all but three were doctor-administered (euthanasia), rather than patient-administered (assisted suicide). In 2022, there were 3,934 deaths — a 27% rise from 3,102 deaths reported in 2021. According to Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, these numbers may not be entirely accurate because they rely on physicians to voluntarily self-report after they have administered a death.
The increase in MAiD deaths in Ontario follows a trend seen throughout the whole country. Reports out of Quebec found that that province now has the highest rate of euthanasia deaths in the world.
As the rates rise, so have the number of stories regarding people who have been approved for MAiD despite the fact that they don’t have a terminal illness. In February 2022, a woman was approved to take her own life because she suffered from severe allergies and chemical sensitivities and was unable to move into better housing. In October, an Ontario man who was facing homelessness applied for euthanasia because he feared losing his home and didn’t know what else to do. Elsewhere in the country, people have reportedly sought euthanasia due to financial difficulties. One woman was even offered euthanasia after a routine, non-related medical request.
Sadly, these were not unique circumstances. Of the MAiD deaths recorded in Ontario for 2022, 121 were labeled “Non Reasonably Foreseeable Natural Death” while 190 had the waiver of final consent revoked, meaning that the final consent was waived because the person was incapacitated.
Though there had been a push to expand the euthanasia guidelines to allow it for mental illness as early as March of this year, that has been temporarily put on hold as concerns grow surrounding the increasing number of MAiD deaths. Unfortunately, though, lawmakers do intend to implement the change at some point.
“At the end of the day we want to be prudent, we want to move in a step-by-step way, so we don’t make mistakes,” Justice Minister David Lametti said in a press conference. “We know we need to get this right in order to protect those who are vulnerable.”
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