Euthanasia in Canada: Report for 2017

The government of Canada’s Third Interim Report on Medical Assistance in Dying  reports a total of 3,714 deaths by euthanasia in Canada between December 10, 2015 and December 31, 2017.

The province of Quebec enacted its own law on euthanasia which came into effect in December 2015. The federal law came into effect on June 17,  2016.

The total number of deaths does not include data from the Yukon, Northwest territories and Nunavut “due to small numbers and associated privacy concerns.”

In examining data for the period of January to December 2017, we find that all deaths except one were euthanasia cases. In euthanasia, the physician or nurse practitioner will give a lethal injection to intentionally cause the person’s death. In assisted suicide, the person will self administer the lethal dose of drugs provided by the physician or nurse practitioner.  The euphemism MAID ( medical assistance in dying) encompasses both practices. 95% of euthanasia cases were done by physicians, the remainder by nurse practitioners. British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario were the only provinces reporting euthanasia deaths administered by nurse practitioners.

Averaging out the two six month periods, the data shows euthanasia deaths occurred mostly in hospital (41%) or patient’s home (41%) with 7% occurring in a long term care facility or nursing home. About 3% of euthanasia deaths took place  in a hospice setting and 8% in “Other” or “Unknown”. The Other category includes clinician’s office, assisted or supportive living, day program space, hotel/motel, funeral home and ambulatory setting.

Categories in age range begin at 18 up to 91+.The majority of euthanasia deaths were performed on cancer patients(64%).

From July 1st to December 31st, 1,066 requests were reported for the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. Approximately 8% of request were declined. Reasons for declining the request were that death was not reasonably foreseeable and loss of competency. 5% of request were withdrawn by the patient. In 14% of requests, the patient died a natural death before the assessment process was completed.

The province of Ontario does not provide data on the number of requests received, declined or withdrawn by the patient.

Action Life believes that the legalization of euthanasia is a tragic development in the country’s history.

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