Euthanasia deaths in Canada jump 35% in 2020
On 7 June 2021, a Health Canada official informed the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying of the Parliament of Canada, that there had been 7,595 reported cases of euthanasia and assisted suicide in 2020.
This represents an increase of 35% from 2019 to 2020.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide accounted for 2.45% of all deaths in Canada in 2020.
In July 2020, the First Annual Report on Medical Assistance in Dying in Canada was published covering data to the end of 2019.
This report states that there were 5,631 cases of euthanasia and assisted suicide under the Canadian law in 2019, with a total of 13,946 cases since legalisation.
Less than seven of the 5,631 cases in 2019 were assisted suicide. Canadian practice overwhelming uses euthanasia. The report states that “providers are less comfortable with self-administration [assisted suicide] due to concerns around the ability of the patient to effectively self-administer the series of medications, and the complications that may ensue”.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide accounted for 1.96% of all deaths in Canada in 2019, 2.4% in Quebec and 3.3% in British Columbia.
By 2020 this had risen to 2.45 % of all deaths in Canada.
Case numbers increased by 57% from 2017 to 2018; by 26% from 2018 to 2019 and by 35% from 2019 to 2020.
On 11 September 2019, the Quebec Superior Court, in the case of Truchon c. Procureur général du Canada, invalidated the relevant provisions in the Canadian law which limiting euthanasia to cases where “natural death has become reasonably foreseeable” and the Quebec law which required that the person be “at the end of life”. The effect of this decision was suspended for six months.
The Canadian Government introduced Bill C-7 into the House of Commons in February 2020 to give statutory effect to the decision. The Bill passed with some amendments and became law on 21 March 2021.
From that date there is no longer a requirement that death be reasonably foreseeable. This is expected to lead to a further increase in the number of deaths by euthanasia.
Additionally from 21 March 2023 euthanasia will also be available as a response to mental illness which will further increase the normalisation of euthanasia in Canada.
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