Euthanasia deaths are increasing in Alberta, Canada

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Similar to other Canadian Provinces, the number of euthanasia deaths in Alberta increased substantially in 2019.

An article by Jason Herring published in the Calgary Herald on January 12, reports there were 377 assisted deaths in 2019 in Alberta, up from 307 in 2018, and 206 in 2017.

Ontario has had similar increasing numbers of euthanasia deaths.

The Calgary Herald article is built around an interview with Dr. Jim Silvius, head of the Alberta Health Services, who worries about “access.”

“We do have some parts of the province, particularly in the central part, where we have areas where it’s difficult for us to find accessors and providers who will assist an individual who’s seeking an assisted death,” Silvius tells Herring.

The Calvary Herald story makes clear the role of the media in increasing demand for MAID—Medical Assistance in Dying—and the impact of court decisions:

Silvius said the continued increase in demand for assisted death is unsurprising because of the raised profile of the program brought on by media coverage. It’s a trend that he expects to continue, particularly as new, more lenient federal regulations are expected to be introduced in response to an October 2019 decision by a Quebec court.

But the article also includes this acknowledgement:

Some physicians who choose not to participate are conscientious objectors with moral opposition to death under medical supervision.

But some doctors just don’t feel comfortable with the procedure due to a lack of training.

“You’re ending a life, and that’s not what we were trained to do,” Silvius said, partially because many doctors weren’t exposed to physician-assisted death in medical school.

Media articles are not examining possible abuses of the law but rather they unquestioningly take the position that euthanasia is increasing and the “need” must be met.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.