Thursday, January 21, 2021

Ontario (MAiD) euthanasia death data examined. Deaths continue to increase.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Analyzing the Ontario (MAiD) euthanasia data.

When (MAiD) euthanasia and assisted suicide was legalized in Canada we were told that it would be rare, that the law had "stringent" safeguards, and that death would be a "last resort."

On June 17, 2016; Canada's Senate passed euthanasia bill (C-14). Even though some groups claimed victory based on the amendments to C-14, EPC was concerned by the fact that Bill C-14 used undefined language that was designed to enable expansion of the euthanasia law. 

In July, 2020, Health Canada released its first annual report on (MAiD). The data was gathered from the reports submitted by the physicians and nurse practitioners who caused the death. There is no requirement that a third party or neutral person submit the euthanasia reports to ensure accuracy. We do not expect an update from Health Canada until July 2021.

The data from the report indicated that in 2019, there were 5,631 MAID deaths reported in Canada, up from 4467 in 2018, accounting for 2.0% of all deaths. When all data sources are considered, there were 13,946 medically assisted deaths reported in Canada from legalization until December 31, 2019.

Even though the federal government is slow in releasing data, the Ontario government sends out regular reports. Since Ontario represents 39% of Canada's population, the trend in Ontario provides a strong indication for the trend in Canada.
This article is focused on analyzing the Ontario data. 

Euthanasia and assisted suicide was legalized in June 2016. According to the Office of the Chief Coroner in Ontario reports, from legalization until December 31, 2020 there were 6696 reported assisted deaths. 

Note: that 6694 were euthanasia (clinician administered) and 2 were assisted suicide (self-administered).

The number of assisted deaths are continually increasing. In Ontario there was a 33% increase in 2020 with 2378 reported assisted deaths, 1789 in 2019, 1499 in 2018, 841 in 2017, and 189 in 2016. 

The number of cumulative reported assisted deaths when further broken down:
December 31, 2018 - 2529 (30 months)
June 30, 2019 - 3303 (774 in 6 months)
December 31, 2019 - 4318 (1015 in 6 months)
June 30, 2020 - 5445 (1127 in 6 months)
December 31, 2020 - 6696 (1251 in 6 months)
The trend also indicates that fewer physicians are observing the 10 day reflection period that Bill C-7 intends to remove from the law. Canada's MAiD law allows medical practitioners to waive the 10 day reflection period. 

This is how the data breaks down concerning waiving the 10 day reflection period:
December 31, 2018 - 23% of the time, (approx 582)
June 30, 2019 - 23% of the time, (approx 760)
December 31, 2019 - 24% of the time, (approx 1036)
June 30, 2020 - 25% of the time, (approx 1361)
December 31, 2020 - 26% of the time. (approx 1741)
Since the data is cumulative, the actual data in the second half of 2020 indicates that 1251 reported euthanasia deaths with the reflection period being waved in approximately 380 of the deaths or almost 31% of those deaths.

Euthanasia followed by Organ donation began to be reported in the Ontario data in July 2019, where the data stated that there were: 
  • 3485 assisted deaths and 29 related organ donations. 
  • December 2019 the data states that there were 4318 assisted deaths and 36 related organ donations,
  • June 2020 data states that there were 5445 assisted deaths and 43 related organ donations and 
  • December 2020 data states that there were 6696 assisted deaths and 49 related organ donations.
Since the data is cumulative, it would appear that the COVID-19 medical restrictions likely resulted in fewer organ donations followed by euthanasia deaths. In the last six months of 2020 there were 1251 euthanasia deaths with 6 related organ donations representing about, or less than 1 out of 200.

The issue of euthanasia followed by organ donation is problematic for several reasons. Here are a few articles:
On October 20, I published an article estimating that there were 19,000 euthanasia deaths in Canada since legalization. By December 31, Ontario had done 637 more euthanasia deaths.

It is likely that there has now been 21,000 euthanasia deaths since legalization. The data does not include the under-reporting of euthanasia as was uncovered in Quebec and likely occurs across Canada.

No comments: