Statistics Canada excludes assisted-dying deaths from annual mortality report

Health Canada confirmed 13,241 Canadians accessed the medical assistance in dying (MAID) procedure last year (4.1%). However, a Statistics Canada excluded all mention of MAID among the 334,081 reported deaths in 2022. 

Statistics Canada excludes assisted-dying deaths from annual mortality report
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Medically assisted suicide is the sixth-leading cause of death in Canada, according to its federal health agency — a reality Statistics Canada excluded in a recent report.

The Public Health Agency of Canada confirmed that 13,241 Canadians accessed the medical assistance in dying (MAID) procedure last year, accounting for one in 25 deaths (4.1%).

However, a Statistics Canada report showed cancer (24.7%), heart disease (17.2%), COVID-19 (5.90%), accidents (5.50%), cerebrovascular diseases (4.17%), and chronic lower respiratory diseases (3.73%) caused most of the 334,081 reported deaths in Canada for 2022. 

“In the database, the underlying cause of death is defined as the disease or injury that initiated the train of morbid events leading directly to death. As such, MAID deaths are coded to the underlying condition for which MAID was requested,” Statistics Canada posted on its X feed.

If a cancer patient accesses MAID to end their life, cancer would be listed as their cause of death.

A StatsCan spokesperson told the Epoch Times they excluded MAID-related deaths over the absence of an official classification by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Causes of death are coded using the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) 10th revision (ICD-10) […] There is no code for MAID in the ICD,” reads the email statement.

In addition, some provinces do not attribute MAID on medical certificates of death when the procedure is carried out. Provincial and federal vital statistics registries rely on this data, reported True North.

“Therefore, Vital Statistics is not a reliable source for tracking MAID. Stats Can will continue to classify deaths according to the WHO ICD rules,” said Health Canada.

Approximately 31,664 Canadians accessed MAID between 2016 and 2021, with an average year-over-year growth rate of 66%. In the previous data year, the feds recorded 10,029 such deaths — up 34.7% from 7,446 deaths in 2020. 

MAID accounted for 3.3% of all deaths in Canada in 2021, up from 2.4% of all reported deaths in the previous year.

Between 2021 and 2022, the total number of assisted suicide deaths grew by 31.2% and is expected to rise further in the coming years. 

After MAID became legal in 2016, a Québec court expanded access after judges ruled the "reasonably foreseeable" death clause unconstitutional.

Last year, 3.5% of MAID recipients or 463 individuals accessed the procedure without having a reasonably foreseeable death — up from 2.2% or 223 individuals in 2021. 

Two years ago, Ottawa permitted anyone with "a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability" who is in "an advanced state of irreversible decline" to access MAID — not including the mentally ill.

In March, Parliament hastily passed a bill to delay the expansion of assisted dying eligibility to people whose sole condition is a mental disorder until March 17, 2024, to ensure sufficient training and practice standards for provincial regulatory bodies and practitioners.

“This one-year extension provides the Government of Canada, Provinces and Territories, and medical regulatory bodies the additional time needed to prepare for the safe and consistent assessment and provision of MAID where the person’s sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness,” reads the MAID report.

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