In Canada, 30% increase in requests for medical assistance in dying during the second half of 2017



Health Canada[1] has just published the latest figures on medical assistance in dying and the authorisation of this practice governed by the laws of December 2015 in Quebec (see Quebec: "medical assistance in dying continues to soar) and July 2016 for the rest of the country (see Canada: will Parliament follow the Supreme Court on medical assistance in dying?).

  • According to this report, 3,714 Canadians have asked a doctor or nurse for help on ending their lives. During the second half of 2017, 1,525 Canadians obtained assistance in dying, i.e. an increase of 30% compared to the first half of 2017.
  • Most of the requests came from individuals in the 56 to 90 age-bracket, with 73 being the mean age.
  • Cancer was the main reason for these requests (65%).
  • 43.3% of the individuals requesting assisted dying died at home, 40.5% in a hospital establishment and the remaining 16.2% mostly died in long-term care facilities, nursing homes or palliative care centres.
  • These deaths represent 1.07% of all deaths occurring across the country in the last six months.

 

In conclusion to this analysis, Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor announced that "Our government recognises 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".

 

For further reading:

Assisted dying in Quebec: doctors object

In Quebec, assisted suicide meets with reluctance from doctors

In Quebec, "end-of-life care cannot just mean access to medical aid in dying"

Euthanasia in Quebec: a "procedure incorrectly qualified as 'care' that affects the doctor who does it?"

 

[1] Health Canada depends on the Health Minister, i.e. the federal Minister responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health whilst respecting individual choices and circumstances.


Sources: 

CBC, Kathleen Harris (21/06/2018), RCI, Stéphane Parent (22/06/2018).