euthanasia

Oh, Canada: 10 Tragic Facts About Canada’s Euthanasia Regime

11 August 2023

6.9 MINS

Canada’s euthanasia industrial complex provides a cautionary tale for other nations considering legalised assisted suicide.

Canada legalised euthanasia in 2016. The law originally allowed assisted suicide only for people facing imminent death. Now anyone suffering severe pain or a disability can opt for euthanasia.

Canada’s laws are arguably less radical than in jurisdictions like Belgium and the Netherlands, where assisted suicide is permitted even for minors. However, Canada’s cultural similarities to Australia and the speed of change in its laws make Canada a cautionary tale for Aussies concerned about the sanctity of life.

As with all political battles, the war for euthanasia in Canada was first waged in the realm of language. “Physician-assisted suicide” soon became “physician-assisted dying”, which morphed into “medically-assisted death” and finally “medical assistance in dying” or MAiD (with a lower-case ‘i’).

Now, the fact that MAiD was ever an acronym has been erased. Euthanasia in Canada is now ubiquitously referred to as simply MAID — as though it were some kind of helpful, ever-present assistant.

This successful rebrand has put an end to the stigma for many Canadians. But the practice itself, once a slippery slope, has sent the nation into moral free fall.

Consider 10 tragic facts about Canada’s euthanasia industry.

1. 30,000 Canadians have been euthanised since the law was passed

Since Canada’s “medical assistance in dying” (MAiD) law was first introduced in 2016, over 30,000 Canadians have ended their life via assisted suicide.

The year-on-year increase in deaths has been steady, growing from just over 1,000 in 2016, to almost 3,000 in 2017, to just shy of 5,000 in 2018.

The last three years covered in the most recent MAiD report — namely, 2019, 2020 and 2021 — saw euthanasia deaths climb from 5,600 to 7,600 to just over 10,000, respectively.

2. 1 in 30 Canadian deaths in 2021 were by euthanasia

During the most recent year for which statistics have been published, 2021, almost 1 in 30 Canadian deaths were the result of assisted suicide.

In some provinces such as Quebec and British Colombia, euthanasia accounted for up to 5 per cent of all deaths that year.

3. Ontario forces doctors to falsify medical records to hide euthanasia deaths

Ontario is Canada’s most populous province. The regulatory body for the practice of medicine in Ontario is the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO).

Following a recent CPSO policy update, doctors in Ontario are now mandated to “list the illness, disease, or disability leading to the request for MAID as the cause of death,” and “must not make any reference to MAID or the drugs administered on the death certificate”.

In other words, Ontarian doctors are now legally compelled to lie — to falsify medical records, to rewrite history — in order to hide euthanasia deaths.

Ontario’s Orwellian policy raises a puzzling question: if euthanasia is a compassionate, virtuous act — as Canadian authorities are wont to assert — why the need to hide the body count?

4. 28% of Canadians believe homeless people should be given access to euthanasia

The saying that “politics is downstream from culture” is not strictly true.

Wherever they are passed, euthanasia laws have the effect of liberalising social attitudes towards assisted suicide.

Canada is a case in point.

A recent poll by Research Co. found that among Canadians, 27% believe that medical assistance in dying should be extended to people in poverty, while 28% agreed that MAiD should be offered on the grounds of homelessness.

Unherd, which reported on the poll, also noted that “over seven in ten Canadians (73%) are pleased with the status quo, believing that the right policies are in place to allow people to seek medical assistance in dying”.

In fact, “a significant minority want the country to go even further, with one in five Canadians (20%) believing that medical assistance in dying should always be allowed,” according to Unherd.

5. A Canadian woman chose euthanasia because she couldn’t find housing

Tragically, on at least one occasion, the euthanasia-happy Canadians referenced in the poll above got what they asked for.

From CTV News:

A 51-year-old Ontario woman with severe sensitivities to chemicals chose medically-assisted death after her desperate search for affordable housing free of cigarette smoke and chemical cleaners failed…

“The government sees me as expendable trash, a complainer, useless and a pain in the a**,” ‘Sophia’ said in a video filmed on Feb. 14, eight days before her death, and shared with CTV News by one of her friends.

She died after a frantic effort by friends, supporters and even her doctors to get her safe and affordable housing in Toronto. She also left behind letters showing a desperate two-year search for help, in which she begs local, provincial and federal officials for assistance in finding a home away from the smoke and chemicals wafting through her apartment.

When governments make death more accessible and affordable than life, should we be surprised by stories like Sophia’s?

6. A military veteran was offered euthanasia instead of a wheelchair ramp at her home

In another shocking story, a military veteran and former Paralympian was offered euthanasia by the Department of Veterans Affairs, after spending five years requesting a wheelchair ramp for her home.

According to CBC:

A paraplegic former member of the Canadian military shocked MPs on Thursday by testifying that the Department of Veterans Affairs offered her, in writing, the opportunity for a medically assisted death — and even offered to provide the equipment.

Retired corporal Christine Gauthier, who competed for Canada at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics and the Invictus Games that same year, spoke before the House of Commons veterans committee and agreed to provide a copy of the letter…

“I have a letter saying that if you’re so desperate, madam, we can offer you MAID, medical assistance in dying,” said Gauthier who first injured her back in a training accident in 1989.

Testifying in French, she said she has been fighting for a home wheelchair ramp for five years and expressed her concerns about the assisted dying offer in a recent letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

7. Taxpayers in Québec contributed $6 million to assisted suicides in 2022

Another consequence of governments legalising euthanasia — one often overlooked — is that taxpayers are required to foot the bill and financially participate in a culture of death.

Earlier this year, a Freedom of Information request revealed that in 2022 alone, the Québec government spent $5,880,162 in taxpayer funds on euthanasia.

True North reported that “Quebeckers paid $674,102 for initial consultations lasting 15 minutes and $2,333,692 for additional 15-minute consultations.” Other costs included administrative fees, forms, visits and recurring consultations.

The province of Québec represents less than a quarter of Canada’s population, meaning that tens of millions of taxpayer dollars are likely being used nationwide to fund assisted suicides.

8. In Canada, the wait time for euthanasia is shorter than for most surgeries

It used to be that if a Canadian applied for assisted suicide and their death was “reasonably foreseeable”, they had to wait at least 10 days before being euthanised. Now that safeguard has been removed, and their life can be ended without delay.

For those whose deaths are not “reasonably foreseeable”, a 90-day wait is still mandatory in most cases.

By contrast, the average wait time for life-giving medical treatment in Canada is 192 days — over half a year — according to a 2022 report by the Fraser Institute.

Canadians can expect to wait 139 days for general surgery, 245 days for eye surgery, and a staggering 412 days for brain surgery.

In fact, so long are medical wait times in Canada that between 2019 and 2020, over 10,000 patients died while on a medical wait list, according to government data.

The state of Canada’s healthcare system, combined with its lax euthanasia laws, has led author and journalist Sheila Gunn Reid to conclude:

This really is the end stage of socialized medicine. The government is creating the suffering for so many of these people in Canada through their own ineptitude. But instead of doing a better job of alleviating people’s suffering, they tell us it’s our civic duty to drop dead and get out of a healthcare line-up.

9. By 2024, any Canadian with a mental illness will have access to euthanasia

Euthanasia was originally sold to the Canadian public as a way out for people experiencing “intolerable suffering” from “a previous and irredeemable medical condition” with a “foreseeable death”.

Then assisted suicide was made available to people whose deaths were not “reasonably foreseeable”.

Then access was expanded to include people with disabilities.

And beginning in March 2024, any Canadian with a mental illness can choose to be euthanised.

10. It all began with denials of a “slippery slope”

The saddest irony about Canada’s euthanasia empire is where it all began — with adamant denials that legalising assisted suicide would create a “slippery slope” towards a culture of death.

The original 2016 ruling, Carter v Canada, is still available on the Supreme Court of Canada’s website.

The term “slippery slope” appears nine times in the ruling. A whole subsection is dedicated to the topic.

“The trial judge, after an exhaustive review of the evidence, rejected the argument that adoption of a regulatory regime would initiate a descent down a slippery slope into homicide,” the ruling reads.

Why? Because the risks “can be limited through a carefully designed and monitored system of safeguards”.

Safeguards that have, for the most part, been repealed in the years since.

Conclusion

The slippery slope of euthanasia has been proven real over and over again.

Canadian lawmakers could have saved many lives if they had shown more curiosity in the places where assisted suicide had already been legalised.

A member of the British Parliament did just that, once asking a Dutch doctor about the Netherlands’ permissive euthanasia laws. The doctor explained, “We agonised over our first case of euthanasia all day, but the second case was much easier and the third was a piece of cake.”

In Australia, many leaders are already sounding the alarm.

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating has said, “Once termination of life is authorised the threshold is crossed. From that point it is much easier to liberalise the conditions governing the law. And liberalised they will be.”

Former Senator for Queensland Amanda Stoker has warned that legalising assisted suicide “means that when a person becomes dependent because of their age, their illness or their disability, a social pressure will inevitably emerge for that person.”

Queensland GP Dr David van Gend agrees. Speaking from personal experience, he laments: “The lonely old people I see in nursing homes have a keen sense of being a burden. They would perceive euthanasia less a ‘right to die’ and more as a ‘duty to die’.”

Australia must not follow in Canada’s footsteps. Instead, let us pray that a culture of life will prevail, both there and in our own nation.

Let us remember the words of Jesus in John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

If you’d like to take a stand for the sanctity of life in Australia, sign the Canberra Declaration today.

Image via Unsplash.

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One Comment

  1. Jim Twelves 11 August 2023 at 9:10 am - Reply

    Kurt, I am old enough to remember the community’s response at hearing of one suicide. The grief, the sadness, the remorse. What chould we have done better as a society to have prevented this? What a tragic loss for the person and for their family.
    Now the culture seems to say, good on them, they have escaped this torture of a life! There seems to be no collective fellowship with each other. Every one is an island and an island can disappear under the ocean if it wants to.
    Thank your for your tireless reporting.

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