Medically Assisted Deaths Rose By Over 30% in 2022 — Health Canada Report

A recent Health Canada report has revealed that the number of medically assisted deaths (MAID) in Canada in 2022 was over 30% higher than the previous year. Medically assisted deaths accounted for 4.1% of all deaths in the country last year. 

This report offers a comprehensive overview of Canada’s medical assistance in dying (MAID) law and its impacts, with the law set to expand access to MAID for those with mental illnesses in March 2024.

However, some experts and advocates have questioned whether the growth rate and the percentage of deaths related to MAID should be a cause for concern. Critics have cited perceived gaps in the data.

The report disclosed that 13,241 people received medically assisted deaths in 2022, marking a 31.2% increase over 2021. Since the introduction of federal legislation in 2016, a total of 44,958 people have received medically assisted deaths.

Rebecca Vachon, the program director for health at the non-partisan Christian think tank Cardus, expressed concern over the year-over-year MAID growth rate, describing it as “alarming.” She emphasized the need for better healthcare to ensure that people do not reach a point where they feel compelled to request MAID.

Jocelyn Downie, a professor at Dalhousie University who has researched end-of-life law, stated that the year-over-year MAID growth is not unexpected or disturbing, considering the transition from illegal to legal practices. She argued that having more individuals with grievous and irremediable medical conditions accessing MAID is not necessarily a bad thing.

Critics have questioned the strength of the data in the report. Vachon criticized the report’s focus on palliative care, suggesting that the data does not adequately assess the quality of palliative care provided. The report revealed that 77.6% of MAID recipients received palliative care in 2022, but critics argue that it does not provide information on the quality of this care.

Dr. Sonu Gaind, a psychiatrist-in-chief at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, expressed concern about how the report described people who accessed MAID without reasonably foreseeable natural deaths. Critics argued that the report downplayed the numbers.

The report also did not provide data on equity and diversity issues or marginalized populations, promising to include this information in a follow-up report in 2024.

The report comes as the federal government prepares to expand MAID eligibility to those with mental illnesses, originally planned for 2023 but delayed until March 2024 to allow for the development of guidelines. Advocates remain concerned about the delay, while others have called for improved access to mental health care before expanding MAID eligibility. Some political leaders have expressed opposition to the expansion.

People suffering solely from mental illnesses will be eligible for MAID as of March 17, 2024.

Source: CBC News

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Canada Will Legalize Medically Assisted Dying (MAiD) For Drug Addicts     

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