NRL News

At least 744 euthanasia deaths in Canada since it was decriminalized in June

by | Dec 30, 2016

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

University of Toronto health law professor Trudo Lemmens

University of Toronto health law professor Trudo Lemmens

CTV News reported that at least 744 people have died by euthanasia in Canada since it was decriminalized in June 2016–four Canadians a day–“and experts say those numbers are expected to rise.”

According to Graham Slaughter, in the six months from June 17th through December 16th there were the following number of “assisted deaths”:

  • 154 in B.C.
  • 63 in Alberta, with 19 occurring in the past month
  • 18 in Manitoba
  • 8 in Saskatchewan
  • 16 in Nova Scotia, as of Oct. 31,
  • 4 in Newfoundland and Labrador
  • None in P.E.I. or the Northwest Territories
  • New Brunswick, the Yukon and Iqaluit did not release data. However, in the Yukon, local media reported on one case
  • In Quebec, which began earlier (December of 2015), there were an estimated 300 assisted deaths in 2016.

The CTV News report indicates that the data is incomplete.

Slaughter interviewed Dr. Ellen Wiebe, who has lethally injected 40 people since June. Wiebe stated that the number of euthanasia deaths will continue to increase:

“I know that it will increase. I expect that we’ll get to the point of the Netherlands and Belgium because their laws are similar to ours, and that would mean about 5 per cent of all deaths”

Ethicist and University of Toronto law professor, Trudo Lemmens, told CTV News that the provinces should be releasing more data to protect patients from possible abuse.

“There is a concern that people who are vulnerable or who find themselves in a situation of vulnerability may be pressured consciously or unconsciously to opt for medical assistance in dying either because of financial circumstances or because the medical help that they need is not necessarily available.”

The system of collecting data is not designed to uncover abuse of the law. The data only reports the medical condition, the age, the gender, etc., and the reports are submitted by the medical practitioner who carries out the death.

The only way to uncover abuse of the law is by receiving information from family members and friends of the deceased. Several stories of abuse have already been uncovered.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.

Categories: Euthanasia