The number of deaths by euthanasia in Ontario, Canada increased by over 30% in 2021 compared to the previous year.
According to data released by the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario, there were 3,102 deaths by euthanasia in the province in 2021 compared to 2,378 in 2020. This represents a 30.4% increase in death by euthanasia in Ontario in a single year.
The data released from the Chief Coroner’s Office also show there were 298 deaths in December 2021 alone compared with 188 in December 2020. According to the data, the average age of those seeking assisted suicide and euthanasia was 76 and the youngest person to end their life in this way was 20.
Since assisted suicide and euthanasia were made legal in 2016, there have been a total of 9,796 deaths by euthanasia and 2 by assisted suicide where the patient ends their own life by administration of a legal drug.
Euthanasia has been legal in Canada since 2016. In 2019 however, following the euthanising of Alan Nichols, a former school caretaker who was physically healthy but struggled with depression, the legal requirement that a person be terminally ill before administration of euthanasia was dropped.
The Second Annual Report on Medical Assistance in Dying in Canada 2020 states that euthanasia and assisted suicide deaths account for 2.5% of all deaths in Canada.
Bill C-7, which was passed by the Canadian Parliament in March 2021, further extended euthanasia legislation to people with disabilities and those with mental health issues, over the age of eighteen.
In 2018, Roger Foley, a man with a chronic neurological disease, recorded hospital staff offering him an assisted suicide despite him being clear that he wanted assistance to live at home and not to end his life.
Unsurprisingly, the expansion of euthanasia legislation is not a phenomenum unique to Canada. In the Netherlands, where euthanasia has been legal since 2002, doctors are now permitted to secretly sedate patients who have dementia before euthanising them. The law permits voluntary euthanasia for anyone over the age of 16, and children aged 13-15 can be euthanised with their parents’ consent. As of 2020, the Dutch government said it would be changing the regulations to allow doctors to end the lives of terminally ill children between the ages of one and twelve.
Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said: “The massive increase in the number of deaths by euthanasia and assisted suicide is extremely alarming. As cases like Roger Foley’s show, it is a scandal that the Canadian state is apparently increasingly content to offer its citizens assistance to die, but not to live”.
“As the UK Government faces multiple attempts to introduce assisted suicide legislation, it is imperative that they consider the increasing number of negative outcomes seen happening abroad. We, in the United Kingdom, must be firm in our message that we value all members of society, and that true dignity in death can be found in our world-leading palliative care system”.