Canada ranks as highest world wide in Medially Assisted Deaths

By Staff

January 28th, 2024



The number of Canadians ending their lives through medically assisted death (MAID) has grown at a speed that outpaces every other nation in the world.

The Investigative Journalism Bureau, a non-profit newsroom based at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the Toronto Star report that assisted deaths accounted for four per cent of all deaths in Canada in 2022 — up from one per cent in 2017, the first full year the legislation was in place. The number of MAID deaths quadrupled during that time. In 2022, the total number hit 13,000 nationwide — a 31 per cent jump from the previous year.

As Canada is poised to expand eligibility criteria under medical assistance in dying (MAID) legislation, data from all 11 countries where the controversial end-of-life treatment exists shows Canada is the fastest-growing adopter in history, an analysis by the Investigative Journalism Bureau and the Toronto Star has found.

Some experts see the rapid growth as a human rights triumph that allows Canadians to make their own choice about when they wish to die with the full support of the state and their doctors. Others fear that failures in the health-care system and social safety net may be contributing to the surge.

“It’s kind of like my mind’s little Holy Grail,” he said of the government’s promise of accessing a physician-assisted death. “I’ve always been living my life with one foot out the door.”

Jeff Kirby, Dalhousie University

The Toronto Star reported that “Jeff Kirby, a professor emeritus in the department of bioethics at Dalhousie University in Halifax, was a member of the federal expert panel tasked by the government in 2021 with drafting safeguards for the expansion of MAID into mental health.

“While he isn’t opposed to the idea, he stepped down from the panel prior to its final report in May 2022, saying safeguards suggested by experts ought to be legally entrenched rather than simply guidance.

“He remains fearful that the new rules welcoming mental health patients to seek MAID lack the rigour and protection to prevent tragedy.

“I really think that Canada as a whole will have lost if it proceeds to March 2024 with no changes,” he says. “I think we have lost a chance to adequately protect members of vulnerable, disadvantaged social groups in a way that we should have.”

Related video:

Senate hearings on MAID

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5 comments to Canada ranks as highest world wide in Medially Assisted Deaths

  • Penny


    I understand where you are coming from. The fear that perhaps family members could make decisions on behalf of the patient that are beneficial to them.

    This reinforces my suggestion that MAID be recognized in the Power Of Attorney for Health that presently recognizes Do Not Resuscitate.

    These decisions are made by the patient, when they are cognitively healthy and leaves as Gary has indicated, the remaining family members not having to.

  • Penny

    It makes absolute sense that there is a rise in MAID. As the baby boomers age the percentage will increase in numbers simply because of the aging of that demographic.

    I believe that people have the right to decide if MAID is the way to end their days. It is presently not as easy as people think to be able to avail themselves of this service. There is a protocol that includes 3 separate visits and one has to be cognitively well..

    I hope that in the future people will be able to decide in advance their wishes regarding MAID. Presently we can include a” Do Not Resuscitate” clause in our Power of Attorney for Health. Why not MAID?

    Not everyone believes in MAID, and we need to respect each other’s opinion on this very difficult issue. One of the first questions I asked my new physician was did she believe in MAID, because I did. The answer was ” if I am not prepared to do this I will find someone for you who will”.

    Pet lovers make the decision to end their animal’s life when it is obvious that their quality of life is non existent . Certainly humans should have the same right.

    • Gary Scobie

      Well written, Penny. I agree with your reasoning for MAID’s rise in Canada and its ethical basis on one’s right to decide, even beforehand when cognitively well and relying on one’s Power of Attorney in the future. I’m hoping it will be there for me if and when I need it, not just for me alone but also to relieve my family and successors.

    • David

      I also agree with Penny but I also agree with Jeff Kirby’s concerns regarding legal protections; the Pet Lover analogy really drove it home for me, as a Father and Husband it has always fallen to me to have a loved member of our families life ended because of inoperable illness, to some it would be just an animal and no big deal, to me however it’s one of the toughest things I am called on to do and there better be some solid reasons before i make that trip to the vet.
      I have been angry at others for having animals put down for just being an inconvenience or getting to big or a myriad of other excuses to be rid of them.
      The number of bedraggled strays that show up at our door wanting help after there owners have moved and not included them in there plans.
      Are your care fee’s eating into your families inheritance? Are you not mentally incapable of looking after yourself or are you just a bit loopy?

  • David

    ‘Soylent Green’ based on the novel ‘make room make room’ gives me the shivers.