NRL News

24,000 estimated assisted deaths in Canada since legalization

by | May 19, 2021

Ontario euthanasia deaths increase, in spite of COVID lock-down. 

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The April 2021euthanasia and assisted suicide (MAiD) data for Ontario indicates that even though the Province has been under a strict COVID-19 “lock-down,” in the month of April, Ontario experienced the highest number of euthanasia deaths –241– since legalization in June 2016.

The Ontario data indicates that in just the first four months of 2021, there were 853 reported assisted deaths. 

Since the federal government has been slow in releasing euthanasia data, the death data from the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario, a province which represents 39% of Canada’s population, provides us with a strong indication of the trend in euthanasia deaths in Canada.

As of April 30, 2021 there have been 7,549 reported assisted deaths in Ontario since legalization. All but two were euthanasia deaths (lethal injection). The remaining two deaths were assisted suicide deaths (lethal prescription).

Numbers going up

The number of assisted deaths has been continually increasing in Ontario. In 2020 there were 2,378 reported assisted deaths, up from 1,789 in 2019– a 33% increase. In 2018, the number was 1,499. In 2017, the total was 841. In 2016, the figure was 189. 

The number of cumulative reported Ontario assisted deaths indicates an unmistakable upward trend:

Over the first 30 months (through December 31, 2018), there were  2,529 deaths.

For the first six  months of 2019,  there were 774 deaths.

For the second 6 months of 2019–1,015 deaths. 

For the first 6 months of 2020 – -1127 deaths. 

For the second 6 months of 2020–1251 deaths.

And for the first 4 months of 2021 –853 deaths. 

That death toll is for a single province.

In July, 2020, Health Canada released its first annual report on MAiD for the entire country. The data was gathered from the reports submitted by the physicians and nurse practitioners who assisted the deaths. There is no requirement that a third party or neutral person submit the euthanasia reports to ensure accuracy. 

We do not expect an update from Health Canada until July 2021.

The data from the report indicated that in 2019, there were 5,631 MAID deaths reported in Canada, up from 4467 in 2018. This accounted for 2.0% of all deaths. 

Through December 31, 2019, when all data sources are considered, there have been 13,946 medically assisted deaths reported in Canada since legalization 

Since we do not have complete national data, I can only estimate the total number of assisted deaths since legalization. Based on a 33% increase in assisted deaths in the province of Ontario in 2020 and based on the 5,631 assisted deaths reported in Canada in 2019, I predict that there were approximately 7,489 assisted deaths in Canada in 2020. 

What about 2021 thus far? Based on the current 10% increase in assisted deaths in the first four months of 2021, I predict that there were approximately 2,745 assisted deaths in Canada in the first four months of 2021.

There were 13,946 reported assisted deaths (from legalization in June 2016 up through December 31, 2019). Add to that approximately 7,489 reported assisted deaths in 2020  and another approximately 2,745 assisted deaths in the first four months of 2021. 

That would come to approximately 24,180 assisted deaths in Canada up through April 30, 202.

When (MAiD) assisted death was legalized in Canada we were told that it would be rare, that the law had “stringent” safeguards, and that euthanasia death would be a “last resort.” 

Recently ten Belgian medical care-givers participated in the publishing of a book titled: Euthanasia: Searching for the Full Story. This book represents a collection of essays and thought provoking stories from people with professional experience with euthanasia in Belgium. 

It is my hope that books, like this one, will re-open the debate on euthanasia in Belgium.

Similar stories and experiences need to be collected and published concerning Canada’s euthanasia law. We will continue to stand against the euthanasia tide.   

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