March 5, 2024

Quebec euthanasia deaths the highest in the world

Euthanasia in Quebec has reached 7% of deaths, the highest in the world. Nonetheless, the head of the province’s Commission on End-of-Life Care, Dr Michel Bureau, found it necessary to email a veiled rebuke to MAiD doctors in Quebec.

According to Radio Canada, he said that there are too many euthanasias administered at the limit of legal conditions and that there have been a number of MAiD deaths that have not complied with all the conditions of the legislation. He had to remind doctors that old age is not a serious and incurable condition – a criterion for a legal MAiD death.  

Dr Bureau declared that a deviation from the rules can turn into a slippery slope, especially since his commission is reviewing an increasing number of requests for MAID.

He felt it necessary to insist that the opinion of a second doctor is a necessary requirement for a legal MAiD death. Doctor shopping for a favourable second opinion is not acceptable, he said.

According to figures published last December, Quebec’s Commission on End-of-Life Care revealed that MAID deaths represented 5.1% of deaths between April 2021 to March 2022. This is the highest in the world, ahead even of the Netherlands and Belgium, where euthanasia is also legal.

However, Radio-Canada said in February that MAiD deaths were now trending at about 7%. At this rate, more than 5,000 people will have used it in 2023, compared to 3,663 last year. This week Dr Bureau told CBC News: “That’s more than anywhere else in the world: 4.5 times more than Switzerland, three times more than Belgium, more than the Netherlands. It’s two times more than Ontario.”

Georges L’Espérance, a neurosurgeon and the president of the Quebec Association for the Right to Die in Dignity, complained that the official memo was “stigmatizing” and that some doctors might be dissuaded from offering MAiD.