Lonely and isolated Canadians being euthanised

The first annual report on euthanasia statistics in Canada has been released, providing a breakdown of the number of people euthanised under their Medical Aid in Dying legislation (“MAiD”) in 2019.

The introduction to the report states that public reporting is done to “support transparency and foster public trust in the application of the law.” However, the data that underpins the report is derived from the information provided by the doctors and nurses who carry out the euthanasia.  As pointed out by Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, “there is no requirement that a third party or neutral person submit the euthanasia reports to [ensure] their accuracy.”

In 2019, there were 5631 deaths under the “MAiD” scheme. This represents a 26.1% increase from the figures in 2018, which were 4467. The total number of people who have been euthanised or given assisted suicide is 13,946. “MAiD” deaths account for 2% of all deaths in Canada in 2019.

Of great concern in the report is the section that provides a breakdown of the nature of the suffering of those who received euthanasia under the scheme. Doctors are required to report on “how the person requesting MAiD described their suffering.”  

The highest category was “Loss of ability to engage in meaningful life activities” (82.1%). The next highest was “Loss of ability to perform activities of daily living (78.1%).

What is most upsetting is that 13.7% of patients stated “Isolation or loneliness” as a description of their suffering. 34% of people described their suffering as “Perceived burden on family, friends and caregivers”. 4.7% stated “emotional distress, anxiety, fear, existential suffering”.

As Wesley J. Smith calculates, 13.7 percent of 5631 people in total in 2019 amounts to “about 771 people, or 64 a month, or two per day.” Is that really the kind of society that Canada aspires to be?

And in terms of other countries considering following Canada’s lead, do they really think that the “cure” for the suffering of isolation and loneliness in our elderly and vulnerable populations is a lethal injection?