Hundreds die after Canada introduces assisted suicide

More than 700 people have died under new euthanasia and assisted suicide laws in Canada, with one doctor assisting in at least 40 deaths.

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party passed assisted suicide into law in June, allowing the practice for people whose natural death was “reasonably foreseeable”.

The Province of Quebec introduced euthanasia ahead of the national change, in December 2015.


Analysis by Canadian TV broadcaster CTV News showed at least 744 adults either took their own life or were killed with medical assistance, in the six months to December 2016.

Across the country, it found that 180 assisted suicides were carried out in Ontario, with 154 in British Columbia, and 63 in Alberta. In excess of 260 deaths by euthanasia have been recorded in Quebec Province.

Figures were not available for people who applied for assisted suicide or euthanasia and were denied.


Responding to the statistics, Professor Trudo Lemmens highlighted concerns that vulnerable people could be pressured into assisted suicide.

Prof Lemmens, who is a health law professor at the University of Toronto, said financial circumstances or a lack of medical help could push people into an early death.

Dr Ellen Wiebe, who was involved in assisting around 40 suicides, said she was confident the number of such deaths would increase across the country.

And another supporter of assisted suicide decried religious groups which did not support the practice, labelling them as “very oppressive”.


In November, an ethicist and academic highlighted that since the change in the law, the first question medical professionals now asked those diagnosed with cancer in Quebec is “Do you wish to be euthanized?”

George Weigel said: “That is what the new Canadian euthanasia regime has accomplished in just a few months: It has put euthanasia at the top of the menu of options proposed to the gravely ill.”

In the UK, politicians soundly defeated a Bill to introduce assisted suicide with one MP saying the proposals used “disingenuous” language and lacked safeguards.

Following a lengthy debate, MPs voted 330 to 118 against Rob Marris’ Private Members’ Bill in September 2015.

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