July 13, 2021
Federal legislation is set to increase the numbers of medically-assisted deaths, with some euthanasia opponents pointing out it’s already happening in dubious circumstances.
Bill C-7, passed in March, eliminated the 10-day reflection period for the terminally ill and also expands euthanasia to the disabled. However, statistics from the federal government’s annual euthanasia report suggest the 1,274 physicians and 71 nurse practitioners who assisted a patient last year were often out-of-bounds already.
In 2020, 7,595 Canadians had their lives ended through Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), including
- 4,120 for cancer without having to discuss MAiD with their oncologist;
- 2,650 who perceived they were a burden on their family, friends or caregivers;
- 1,412 due to feelings of loneliness and isolation
- 1,253 with non-terminal conditions;
- 227 because they were frail;
- 322 who did not get disability support services they needed;
- 126 who did not get palliative care they needed;
- 59 practitioner assessed as consenting to MAiD without explicitly saying so;
As well, 2,532 Canadians were lethally injected less than 10 days after requesting it. For 905 patients, they weren’t imminently dying, but practitioners decided they could lose their capacity to choose MAiD before the 10 days were up, so they were assisted sooner.
“This raises real questions about the validity of the original request. If a person is on the verge of losing capacity, what degree of certainty can there be that the person currently has full capacity?” said Alex Schadenberg, founder of Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, in a blogpost,
In an interview with Western Standard, Schadenberg said the stats also show why Canada needs to give public attention to the loneliness problem, like the U.K. has.
“They have a massive problem with cultural loneliness and it…is not only something that would lead to someone asking for their life to be ended. It leads obviously to depression in general, but also health problems…higher rates of obesity, higher rates of heart attack,” Schadenberg said.
“What the culture needs to recognize is that we have to be far more concerned about what makes human beings tick. What makes us human is our need for interconnection with others.”
A recent report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on “vulnerable populations” boasted of a new tool that could predict if a senior was likely to die within six months. RESPECT, developed by Amy Hsu, stands for Risk Evaluation for Support: Predictions for Elder-Life in the Community Tool.
“The issue really becomes fundamentally about cost containment and being more accurate in our ability to say to somebody, ‘You really shouldn’t be receiving more treatment. Nothing personal, but we think you’re not going to survive much longer,’” Schadenberg said.
Angelina Ireland, president of the Delta Hospice Society, had her 10-bed privately-owned hospice in B.C. taken over by the provincial government for its refusal to offer MAiD onsite. Ireland doubts the death-prediction tool shows respect for seniors.
“What is the purpose of creating such a program? My mind goes only to dark motives, honestly. I don’t understand why they would be so interested in that kind of information. So from where I stand it seems to me they are able to figure out how many people that they can offer MAiD to in the near future.”
Ireland says C-7 has made those with a terminally ill prognosis even more vulnerable if they can be killed the same day instead of taking 10 days to think about it.