Recent federal data from Health Canada reveals that an increasing number of Canadians are opting for Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD). In 2022, the country witnessed 13,000 cases of assisted deaths, marking a significant 30% surge from the previous year.
Cancer stands out as the most prevalent condition among those seeking MAiD, accounting for 63% of all recipients in 2022. Dying with Dignity Canada, a national charity, is now advocating for an expansion of eligibility criteria to encompass a broader spectrum of illnesses, diseases, and disabilities.
Their proposal includes the concept of an “advanced request,” allowing individuals to specify their desire for MAiD in the future, particularly in cases involving conditions like Alzheimer’s and similar situations. This notion is under parliamentary investigation, with hopes for legislation in this domain.
Alex Muir, a spokesperson for Dying with Dignity Canada, suggests that the rise in MAiD rates is not surprising. As awareness of this end-of-life option spreads, more individuals are considering it as a viable choice if they find themselves suffering. Additionally, as more people access MAiD, the awareness of its availability increases, often through the experiences of friends or family.
In 2022, MAiD accounted for over 4% of all deaths in Canada, reflecting the upward trend in medically assisted deaths since 2016 when the federal government passed legislation permitting such requests. Initially, eligibility required that a patient’s death be reasonably foreseeable, primarily involving terminal illnesses. However, eligibility criteria expanded in 2021 to include cases where death is not necessarily foreseeable. This shift has made MAiD more accessible to a broader range of individuals.