In Canada, a patient who is requesting lethal drugs does not have to self-administer the medication. While Canadians have the option to do so, the number of patients who self-administer the medication is statistically insignificant.
The increase in physician-assisted deaths occurred prior to passage of a law that could greatly expand the number of patients requesting euthanasia. Bill C-7, which eliminated the requirement that a patient’s death be “reasonably foreseeable” in order for lethal drugs to be prescribed them, became law in March 2021.
Bill C-7 allows for any patient who is suffering, regardless if their condition is terminal or not, to request and receive an assisted death. Under the new law, depression and other mental illnesses are grounds for euthanasia and assisted suicide.
On Monday, Hoffman stated that in 2020, as in years past, cancer was the most commonly-cited illness among people who requested lethal drugs. The reasons most frequently cited for requesting euthanasia were “the inability to engage in meaningful activities or perform activities of daily living.”
Each year since euthanasia was legalized in Canada in 2016, the number of people who have requested and received the procedure has increased. Hoffman said she believed that this increase is connected to greater public awareness.
“Increased awareness and greater acceptance by Canadians of MAID [medical aid-in-dying] as an end-of-life option has resulted in steady growth in MAID since 2016,” she said.