Quebec has become the jurisdiction with the highest proportion of deaths by euthanasia and assisted suicide in the world, according to Michel Bureau, president of the province’s Commission on End of Life Care.
“In Quebec 5.1% of deaths result from MAID,” he told a press conference in December. “In the Netherlands it’s 4.8% of deaths and in Belgium 2.3%.”
However, MAiD or medical assistance in dying, has only been legal in Quebec since 2016 while in the Netherlands and Belgium, it has been legal since 2002.
In the rest of Canada, rates have been rising steadily to 3.3% in 2021. As Alexander Raikin points out in The New Atlantis in a blistering article on MAiD:
One of the greatest reasons for concern is the sheer scale of Canada’s euthanasia regime. California provides a useful point of comparison: It legalized medically assisted death the same year as Canada, 2016, and it has about the same population, just under forty million. In 2021 in California, 486 people died using the state’s assisted suicide program. In Canada in the same year, 10,064 people used MAID to die.
Even Dr Bureau is surprised by how readily Quebecers have accepted MAiD. He believes that it is due to the fact that MAiD is treated as care and not as euthanasia.
“Quebecers who receive medical assistance in dying are at the end of life. They have suffering that cannot be alleviated and they meet all the criteria,” Bureau said. “The commission on end-of-life care analyses all requests for medical assistance in dying to ensure that they comply with the law.”
Georges L’Espérance, a neurosurgeon and the president of the Quebec association for the right to die with dignity, said the increase does not surprise him. Apart from greater awareness of the availability of MAiD, “it means also that patients are more aware of their dignity and their own autonomy and that’s what they want, they want to have a kind of control up to the end,” he said.