MAiD (euthanasia and assisted suicide) deaths increase in Ontario during COVID-19 crisis

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Ontario Office of the Chief Coroner released new data for MAiD (euthanasia and assisted suicide deaths) in Ontario indicating that from June 17, 2016 until March 31, 2020, there have been 4,888 reported assisted deaths.

There were 189 reported assisted suicide deaths  in 2016, 841 in 2017, 1,499 in 2018, and 1,789 reported assisted deaths in 2019.

According to the data, there was a significant increase in reported assisted deaths in the second half of 2019 with 1015 up from 774 reported assisted deaths in the first half of the year in Ontario. There were 570 reported assisted deaths in the first three months of 2019 with 199 in March alone.

The 570 reported assisted deaths in the first three months of 2020 indicates an increasing trend in assisted deaths.

The euthanasia rate is sadly increasing.

Parliament is currently debating Bill C-7, a bill to expand euthanasia in Canada. Bill C-7 amends the euthanasia law by eliminating the “terminal illness” requirement, allowing advanced requests for euthanasia, eliminating the 10 day waiting “reflection” period, and falsely claims to prohibit euthanasia for mental illness.

If Bill C-7 passes without amendments, it will give Canada the most extreme euthanasia law in the world and result in a greater increase in deaths by lethal injection.

A recent CBC Radio show hosted  by Duncan McCue, Stephanie Green, president of the Canadian Association of MAiD Assessors and Providers explained how MAiD can be done on a patient with COVID-19. Green stated:

“I have provided for MAID on the same day that I’ve met someone on certain occasions.” 

“It’s not common … MAID is a process that requires rigorous procedure and safeguarding and is meant to be that way.”

Green then explained that “MAID applications can be expedited if two assessing physicians agree a patient is at “imminent risk” of losing their capacity or life, they can forgo the typical 10-day reflection period required by law. 

Green went on to say

“If they’re about to die, or we think they’re going to die within 10 days, we actually can go ahead and waive that reflection period and move quicker.”

recently reported on an article written by Globe and Mail Health reporter Kelly Grant. Grant stated that the Ottawa and Hamilton regions temporarily stopped providing euthanasia “MAiD services” during the Covid-19 pandemic. Grant wrote:

The Champlain Regional MAID Network, which serves Ottawa and the surrounding area, issued a notice on Wednesday that it was shutting down the service in hospitals and homes to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 and to conserve health-care resources. 

Hamilton Health Sciences, a hospital network with 10 sites, has also stopped providing assisted dying within its walls.

While it is possible that the MAiD data will indicate a slowing trend in April 2020, the current trend indicates a continuing increase in the number of lethal injection deaths in Ontario.

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