British Columbia health authorities must produce 131 unedited pages of documents related to the introduction and implementation of Medical Assistance in Dying by September 18, as ruled by a BC Privacy Commissioner adjudicator.
This marks the third disclosure achieved by local independent publication The B.C. Catholic after a three-and-a-half-year investigation into the inner workings of MAID in the province's health-care system.
While disclosure efforts were ongoing, 2,030 deaths by MAID were recorded in B.C. during 2021. According to the third annual report on MAID in Canada from the same period, medically-assisted suicide accounted for 3.3% of all mortalities nationwide. In total, 31,664 medically-assisted deaths have occurred since access to MAID was increased in 2016.
The increasing utilization of this procedure has caused concern from patients, health-care workers and loved ones, as reports of MAID being pushed on veterans, the disabled, the mentally ill, and those experiencing poverty have begun to pile up.
The success of The B.C. Catholic’s past access to information requests has shone light on these numbers and the circumstances surrounding them.
According to a batch of documents released in January, the Fraser Health board of directors was forced to address “issues with some care providers who are having ethical dilemmas with providing this service.”
However, in a follow-up meeting, health-care providers were reminded they “are obligated by law to provide MAID services to… patients regardless of where they are in their journey.”
The discussion was concluded with the acknowledgement that moving forward with the recommended plan would lead to “resistance both within and outside the organization.”
The heavily-redacted nature of many of these previously released documents is what led to further information requests. Many of these withholdings have now been found invalid and will be reversed in the next batch of disclosures.