Medically assisted deaths in last half of 2017 up almost 30 per cent

OTTAWA — Almost 4,000 people have chosen medical assistance to end their lives since the practice became legal in Canada two years ago.

That includes 1,525 in the last six months of 2017 — a 29 per cent increase over the first half of the year.

The statistics are contained in a third interim report from Health Canada, which is planning to implement a permanent, national reporting and monitoring system for assisted deaths in the fall.

In the meantime, the department has been compiling statistics at six-month intervals, based on incomplete data provided by the provinces and territories.

The latest report says that a total of 3,714 Canadians have ended their lives with the help of doctor or nurse practitioner since medically assisted dying became legal — in Quebec in December 2015 and nationwide in July 2016.

The report looks in-depth at the latter half of 2017, during which assisted deaths accounted for just over one per cent of total deaths.

Of the 1,525 assisted deaths in that period, the report says 40.5 per cent occurred in a hospital setting, while 43.3 per cent occurred in the patient’s home.

There were no cases of self-administered assisted deaths.

Most of the individuals who chose assisted deaths were between the ages of 56 and 90, with an average age of 73. They were evenly divided between men (49 per cent) and women (51 per cent).

As in previous interim reports, cancer (65 per cent) was the most frequently cited medical condition associated with assisted deaths, followed by circulatory and respiratory illnesses (16 per cent) and neuro-degenerative disorders (10 per cent).

Only Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Quebec and some Atlantic provinces collect information regarding the number of requests for medical assistance in dying and how many are declined, withdrawn or not completed.

Based on that limited data, the report says eight per cent of requests for an assisted death were refused. The most commonly cited reasons were the patient’s loss of competency and that the patient’s natural death was not reasonably foreseeable, as required by the federal law.

About five per cent of requests were withdrawn by the patient. Another 14 per cent of requesters died before the process of assessing their eligibility could be completed.

Just Posted

City of Burnaby issues eviction notice to protesters at Kinder Morgan terminal

BURNABY, B.C. — The City of Burnaby is evicting protesters from a… Continue reading

The Beatles’ ‘All You Need Is Love’ adapted for picture book

NEW YORK — Two new children’s books will add pictures to the… Continue reading

B.C. homeowner groups can fine defiant short-term rental hosts $1,000 a day

VANCOUVER — Homeowners groups in British Columbia will soon be able to… Continue reading

Zuckerberg clarifies statements on treatment of fake news

NEW YORK — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is clarifying his stance pertaining… Continue reading

Greenpeace members climbing Olympic Stadium tower in Montreal

MONTREAL — At least three Greenpeace members are climbing the outside of… Continue reading

WATCH: Global FMX at Westerner Days

There are three freestyle motocross shows a day at Westerner Park this week

Charges laid against woman found in Innisfail hotel room with eight dogs

A woman faces 12 charges after eight dogs were seized from an… Continue reading

Ottawa police investigating fireworks incident involving fans at TFC-Fury match

Ottawa police are investigating a fire that delayed Wednesday night’s Canadian Championship… Continue reading

Pay down debt or save money? How to allocate your cash

It’s one of the most common questions financial advisers hear: should I… Continue reading

Rivers dry and fields dust, Iranian farmers turn to protest

VARZANEH, Iran — The small group of Iranian farmers gathered around their… Continue reading

‘Brady Bunch’ house for sale for nearly $1.9M

LOS ANGELES — The home featured in the opening and closing scenes… Continue reading

Study links air pollution to drop in national park visitors

DENVER — Visitors appear to be steering clear of some U.S. national… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month