April 13, 2024

One in 25 deaths in Canada last year was due to euthanasia

In 2022, 13,241 Canadians died through Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) – 4.1% of all deaths. Since euthanasia and assisted suicide were legalised in 2016, there have been 44,958 MAID deaths.

The Minister of Health, Mark Holland, said in remarks in the 2022 statistics that “we continue to advance core principles of safety, accessibility, and the protection of persons who may be vulnerable, throughout the MAID system.”

Here are some of the highlights of the Ministry’s fourth annual report.

  • The number of MAID cases grew by 31.2% over 2021.
  • More males (51.4%) than females (48.6%) received MAID.
  • The average age of individuals at the time MAID was provided in 2022 was 77.0 years. Only a small percentage was between 18-45 (1.3%) and 46-55 (3.2%).
  • Cancer (63.0%) is the most cited underlying medical condition for MAID, followed by cardiovascular conditions (18.8%), other conditions (14.9%), respiratory conditions (13.2%) and neurological conditions (12.6%).
  • MAID for patients whose deaths are not reasonably foreseeable was only legalised in 2021. In 2022, 3.5% of the total number of MAID deaths (463 individuals), were individuals whose natural deaths were not reasonably foreseeable. This is an increase from 2.2% in 2021. The most cited underlying medical condition for this population was neurological (50.0%), followed by other conditions (37.1%), and multiple comorbidities (23.5%).
  • In 2022, the most commonly cited sources of suffering by individuals requesting MAID were the loss of ability to engage in meaningful activities (86.3%), followed by loss of ability to perform activities of daily living (81.9%) and inadequate control of pain, or concern about controlling pain (59.2%).
  • The number of MAID providers is growing. During 2022 there were 1,837, up 19.1% from 2021. 95.0% of all MAID practitioners were physicians, while 5.0% were nurse practitioners. However, the number of nurses providing MAID is growing. Nurse practitioners performed 9.4% of all MAID procedures, up from 8.4% in 2021 and from 7.0% in 2019.
  • As MAID becomes socially normalised, doctors are doing them more frequently. In 2022, the average number of MAID provisions per practitioner was 7.2, compared to 6.5 (2021), 5.8 (2020) and 5.1 (2019).

Bioethics commentator Wesley J. Smith noted in a column in the National Review that “If the same percentage of people were killed by doctors in the USA as are in Canada, that would amount to about 140,000 homicides annually. That’s about as many people as live in cities such as Waco, Texas, or Fullerton, Calif.”