‘Horrific’ record double-digit increase in euthanasia deaths in Canada
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‘Horrific’ record double-digit increase in euthanasia deaths in Canada

Canada is on track to break euthanasia records again, with assisted suicide deaths expected to reach 15,280 in 2023, up 15 per cent from the previous year, a campaign group warns.

According to the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, an increasing number of people who are not terminally ill are taking advantage of the government’s assisted suicide program, known locally as MAiD.

These include people with autoimmune diseases, diabetes and chronic pain who could live much longer if they had better health care.

The prediction comes amid growing concerns about the expansion of Canada’s eight-year-old euthanasia program and the increasing number of cases in which suffering family members are ending up in court.

Alex Schadenberg, director of the coalition, says more and more people are opting for euthanasia, even if they only suffer from “weakness” and other seemingly mild ailments.

‘Horrific’ record double-digit increase in euthanasia deaths in Canada

Our forecast shows that deaths due to euthanasia will increase by more than 15 percent between 2022 and 2023

“It’s scary how loose the system is becoming, doctors are signing the papers and people who don’t meet the criteria are getting the right to benefits,” Schadenberg told DailyMail.com.

Canadians overwhelmingly support euthanasia, with campaign group Dying With Dignity saying the procedures are “driven by compassion, the desire to end suffering and discrimination, and the desire for personal autonomy.”

Human rights groups say the country’s laws fail to provide necessary safeguards, undervalue the lives of people with disabilities and lead doctors and healthcare workers to recommend the procedure to people who might not otherwise consider it.

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Health Canada is expected to release official 2023 MAiD data in the coming months.

Before compiling the annual report, Schadenberg collected publicly available data from Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Manitoba, Alberta and Nova Scotia and then aggregated it.

He estimated that 15,280 people ended their lives due to MAiD last year, a 15.4 percent increase compared with 2022.

Official data shows that MAiD now accounts for 4.6% of all deaths, making it the most common cause of death after cancer, heart disease and accidental injuries.

Since the program began in 2016, approximately 60,238 people have died from MAiD.

While the number of assisted suicides has increased, there are signs it is starting to level off.

Between 2016 and 2022, the number of MAiD cases increased by about one third each year.

Health Canada spokeswoman Anne Génier said her colleagues were “still compiling data for 2023.”

The treatments are strictly controlled and only available to people suffering from an “incurable disease that causes an advanced stage of irreversible deterioration in health,” Génier told DailyMail.com.

Alex Schadenberg, director of the Coalition to Prevent Euthanasia, says 'fragility' should not be a reason to receive a lethal injection

Alex Schadenberg, director of the Coalition to Prevent Euthanasia, says ‘fragility’ should not be a reason to receive a lethal injection

Nearly two-thirds of people using assisted suicide in Canada are people with cancer

Nearly two-thirds of people using assisted suicide in Canada are people with cancer

The average age of MAiD beneficiaries is 77. In this age group, the death rate is roughly equal between men, who account for 51.4 percent of deaths, and women, who account for 48.6 percent.

About two-thirds of recipients have cancer. Heart, respiratory and brain disease are also common conditions that lead people to euthanasia.

Although MAiD is popular among Canadians, it has been controversial in recent months.

A 27-year-old Calgary woman with autism has made headlines for seeking assisted suicide due to what she said was “unbearable” suffering — while her father tried to block a lethal injection in court, saying there was nothing wrong with her.

It is now known that he is once again seeking physician-assisted suicide.

The couple cannot be identified due to a court order. Her father, known as MV, blames the Canadian health care system for failing his daughter, known as MV.

“It’s not working anymore and needs to be fixed ASAP, otherwise it will just get worse,” he told DailyMail.com.

“I suspect that if the rules are not changed, we will be flooded with hopeless young people entering MAiD.”

Last month, Canada was rocked by complaints from two people with neurological problems who said they found it easier to use MAiD than alternative therapies that would help them live pain-free.

Jody Lance, a 50-year-old Calgary resident, won a legal battle that allowed him to gain access to psilocybin, the active ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms, which helped him get rid of crippling “cluster” headaches.

Then, renowned war veteran Kelsi Sheren publicly called for easier access to plant-based therapies for traumatized ex-combatants.

“Why can we have access to after-care and not real treatment that could help us become functioning, healthy, tax-paying members of society?” Sheren asked.

Canada’s path to legal euthanasia began in 2015, when its highest court ruled that banning assisted suicide deprives people of their dignity and autonomy. It gave national leaders a year to craft the legislation.

Kelsi Sheren says Canadian war veterans have an easier time getting euthanasia than accessing modern drugs that could ease their PTSD

Kelsi Sheren says Canadian war veterans have an easier time getting euthanasia than accessing modern drugs that could ease their PTSD

Under Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada has repeatedly made euthanasia easier to access.

Under Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada has repeatedly made euthanasia easier to access.

More than 99.9 percent of assisted suicides in Canada are performed by a physician.

More than 99.9 percent of assisted suicides in Canada are performed by a physician.

A law introduced in 2016 legalized both euthanasia and assisted suicide for people over the age of 18, provided certain conditions are met:

They must have had a serious, advanced disease, illness or disability that was causing suffering and that was approaching death.

The law was later changed to allow people who are not terminally ill to choose to die, significantly expanding the number of people eligible.

Critics say the change removes a key safeguard intended to protect people who potentially have decades left to live.

Today, any adult suffering from a serious illness or disability can seek assistance in dying.

In February, authorities postponed plans to expand access to MAiD to people with mental illnesses, postponing a decision until 2027.

Steps are also being taken to make euthanasia available to “mature minors.”

Euthanasia is legal in seven countries: Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Spain, as well as in several states of Australia.

Other jurisdictions, including a growing number of U.S. states, allow assisted suicide — in which patients administer the medication themselves, typically by crushing and drinking a lethal dose of pills prescribed by a doctor.

In Canada, both options are referred to as MAiD, although more than 99.9 percent of such procedures are performed by a physician. The number of deaths from MAiD in Canada has been steadily increasing by about one-third each year.