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Euthanasia deaths in Canada rise 31% to record high

By Jake Beardslee · October 26, 2023

In brief…

  • MAID deaths in Canada rose 31% to 13,241 in 2022, accounting for over 4% of all deaths.
  • Cancer was the most common underlying condition, cited in 63% of MAID procedures.
  • Over 80% requested MAID due to inability to do meaningful activities and daily living.
  • Males accounted for 51.4% of MAID recipients, average age was 77.
  • Conservative MP warned expanded MAID could lead to "culture of death" in Canada.
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau. Medically-assisted suicide continues rapid rise in Canada, with government report showing 13,241 euthanasia deaths in 2022.  Justin Trudeau/Wikimedia

A new report from the Canadian government published this month revealed that medically-assisted suicide numbers have risen dramatically in the country.

The Canadian government released its fourth yearly report on “Medical Assistance in Dying” (MAID) this month. The report showed that the number of MAID deaths, also known as euthanasia or assisted suicide, totaled 13,241 in Canada last year. According to the report, “In 2022, there were 13,241 MAID provisions reported in Canada, accounting for 4.1% of all deaths in Canada.” The report pointed out that this was a 31.2% increase in MAID procedures compared to the previous year.

The report also stated that since MAID was legalized in Canada in 2016, the total number of euthanasia deaths has reached 44,958. Those who are legally eligible for MAID are adults aged 18 and over who have serious and incurable illnesses, diseases or disabilities.

More information in the report showed that a “slightly larger proportion of males (51.4%) than females (48.6%) received MAID” in 2022, which the report claimed is “consistent with 2021 (52.3% males and 47.7% females), 2020 (51.9% males and 48.1% females) and 2019 (50.9% males and 49.1% females).”

On average, those who underwent MAID procedures last year were 77 years old - “slightly higher than the averages of 2019 (75.2), 2020 (75.3) and 2021 (76.3). The average age of females during 2022 was 77.9, compared to males at 76.1.”

Additionally, patients with cancer chose MAID more frequently than those with other illnesses. Approximately 63% of MAID procedures specified cancer as the primary medical condition.

The report also provided insight into why patients requested MAID. Over 80% of MAID recipients said they sought the procedure due to the loss of ability to engage in meaningful activities and activities required for daily living. Nearly 60% cited pain or worries about being able to manage pain as their reason for requesting the procedure.

Conservative politicians in Canada have spoken out against the legalization of MAID. This month, Conservative Member of Parliament Ed Fast told The Toronto Star that he is concerned that the procedures - now that they could potentially be administered to people suffering from mental illness - could lead to a “culture of death” in the country.