Available statistics indicate that Quebec is on track to reach euthanasia rates after two years that correspond to Belgian rates after seven to eight years (i.e., per 100,000 population and as a percentage of deaths from all causes).
Not all Quebec euthanasia statistics have been made public. However, the following points appear to be of interest:
- Almost 20 requests for euthanasia were made weekly in the province in the first half of 2017, slightly higher than the last half of 2016.
- The percentage of requests that did not result in euthanasia increased slightly from about 37% to 40%
- Increases in this category, when reported, were attributed mainly to patients becoming incompetent, dying or withdrawing their requests.
The Project’s analysis is available at Euthanasia Statistics: Quebec.
For immediate release
LifeSite News has published an article concerning Quebec euthanasia statistics collated by the Project.
During the interview that led to the publication of the article, the Project Administrator expressed concern that a significant increase in the volume of cases in the last half of 2016 could increase pressure on physicians and other health care workers who do not wish to participate in the procedure. Such pressure was generated across Canada by the exponential increase in the number of abortions following liberalization of the abortion law in 1969, from under 300 in eleven years to over 11,000 in the first year after the change in the law. The number of euthanasia and assisted suicide cases in the first year of legalization seems unlikely to exceed 20% of that number, but this is still sufficient to warrant concern about pressure on objecting health care workers.
The statistical returns disclose some wide differences between different regions or reporting agencies, and sometimes between reporting agencies in the same administrative region. For example: the number of euthanasia requests per 100,000 population is reported to be much higher in the Quebec City area than in the rest of the province, while the number of euthanasia requests per 100,000 palliative patients reported in Lanaudiere and Laval is much higher than in the Montreal Region. Euthanasia is reported to be provided per 100,000 population in the Quebec City area at a rate three times that of Montreal.
The Administrator explained that the statistics were primarily useful in raising important questions about the reasons for such variations or trends, such as differences in the quality or accessibility of palliative care or the nature of patient illnesses.
1. Waring G. “Report from Ottawa.” CMAJ Nov. 11, 1967, vol. 97, 1233 (Accessed 2016-06-15).
2. In 1970, the first year under the new rules, there were more than 11,000. In 1971 there were almost 39,000. “Therapeutic abortion: government figures show big increase in ‘71.” CMAJ May 20, 1972, Vol. 106, 1131 (Accessed 2016-06-15)
[Release revised 2017-03-14]
Quebec euthanasia rate after one year passes Belgian rate at five year mark
Since 10 December, 2015, euthanasia has provided by physicians in Quebec under the terms of An Act Respecting End of Life Care (ARELC). Health and social services agencies established by the government throughout the province are state agencies responsible for the delivery and coordination of health care in the province administrative regions. These are called Centres intégrés de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) and Centres intégrés universitaires de santé et de services sociaux [CIUSSS). Some administrative regions (like Montreal and the Quebec City region) have more than one CISSS or CIUSSS.
These agencies are responsible for the delivery of euthanasia and are required to make reports to a commission established by the law (the Commission sur les soins de fin de vie) to monitor the administration of euthanasia. According to the Commission, they are also required to post these reports on their websites.
As of 6 March, 2016, one of these agencies (Outaouais) had not posted the reports on its website. Two (Outaouais and Abitibi-Temiscamingue) had neither posted the most recent report nor sent the report to the Commission, and did not respond to a request for it.
The Project has compiled the statistics provided by the other agencies in tables and charts. Note that, in some cases, the number of patients lethally infused is higher than the number of requests because euthanasia was provided in response to a request made in the previous reporting period.
Quebec’s euthanasia rate almost doubled in the last half of 2016. One year after legalization, Quebec has passed the euthanasia rate reached by Belgium after five years. If Quebec’s rate continues without escalation throughout 2017, it will exceed that achieved by Belgium after nine years.