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STATEMENT regarding Health Canada's Fourth Annual Report on MAiD Deaths


October 25, 2023

“The nearly 31% year-over-year growth in death by euthanasia and assisted suicide is alarming. The fact that more than 4% of all deaths in Canada in 2022 came at the hands of a medical professional should give us all pause. It’s frightening to think of how these numbers will grow if the federal government pushes forward in its plan to expand eligibility for euthanasia and assisted suicide to those whose sole underlying condition is mental illness. There is no national consensus to proceed with this expansion, especially considering the fact that 82% of Canadians want the federal government to prioritise access to mental health care before any such expansion.

Additionally, for the fourth consecutive time, Health Canada has produced a report with a vague and weak notion of palliative care. It says nothing about the quality of palliative care Canadians received before euthanasia or assisted suicide, it does not define what access to palliative care actually means, and it fails to identify who is providing palliative care and whether or not specialist palliative care professionals are involved. At best, the report promises a future report with additional detail about palliative care. When Canadians are facing death—and increasingly choosing it due to, according to the eligibility criteria of MAiD, unbearable suffering­—it is unacceptable that euthanasia and assisted suicide continue to receive priority investments and increasing expansion while palliative care continues to be unavailable for many Canadians. As noted by the report, almost 20% of Canadians dying by euthanasia did not have palliative care, and half of Canadians with some palliative care had it for less than one month before their euthanasia. Furthermore, the report shows that palliative care can alleviate a desire to die, noting that 42% of those who withdrew their requests did so because palliative care no longer made premature death necessary. This points to a need to improve the quality and access to specialist palliative care before Canadians feel that their suffering is unbearable and necessitates a premature death.

The health minister needs to prioritise helping suffering Canadians live better rather than simply providing the means for a premature death.”

  • Rebecca Vachon, Health Program Director at think tank Cardus

Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus – Director of Communications

Cardus – Imagination toward a thriving society
Cardus is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society’s institutions can work together for the common good.