Government of Canada releases Fourth Interim Report on Medical Assistance in Dying
Report provides updated data on medical assistance in dying in Canada
April 25, 2019
The release of information on medical assistance in dying helps Canadians understand how the legislation is being implemented across the country. The federal government recognizes that public reporting in this area is critical to ensuring transparency and fostering public trust in the legislation.
Today, the Government of Canada released the Fourth Interim Report on Medical Assistance in Dying. Based on available data, there were at least 2,614 medically assisted deaths in Canada between January 1 and October 31, 2018. Medically assisted deaths accounted for approximately 1.12% of all deaths in Canada during this period, which remains consistent with the results in other international assisted-dying regimes. Of these deaths, cancer was the most frequently cited underlying medical condition, accounting for approximately 64% of all medically assisted deaths.
This will be the last interim report now that federal regulations to support the collection of consistent information on medical assistance in dying across Canada have come into force. The data collected under the new federal monitoring system will provide a more complete picture of who is requesting and who is receiving medical assistance in dying—data that will inform ongoing discussions among Canadians. It is anticipated that the first annual federal report using data collected by the new monitoring system will be published in spring 2020.
“I would like to thank the provinces and territories for their collaboration in producing this series of interim reports on medical assistance in dying in Canada. The Government recognizes that monitoring and reporting are critical to ensuring transparency and trust in the legislation. That is why I am pleased that we will be able to provide Canadians with more robust annual reports.”
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health
- There have been at least 6,749 medically assisted deaths in Canada since the legislation was enacted in June 2016. Note that there are some limitations in these data:
- The Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut could not share any data for this reporting period because of small numbers and associated concerns for the privacy of the patients and the providers involved.
- There is also a gap in the data available for Quebec due to a change in its reporting period.
- The Fourth Interim Report on Medical Assistance in Dying notes that:
- The majority of Canadians who received medical assistance in dying were between 56 and 90 years of age.
- The average age dropped slightly from previous reporting periods, from 73 to 72 years of age.
- There were more cases of medical assistance in dying in larger urban centres (56%) compared to areas with smaller populations (44%).
- The settings for the provision of medical assistance in dying continue to be primarily in a hospital (44%) or in a patient’s home (42%).
- Medical assistance in dying was largely administered by physicians (93%), while 7% of medically assisted deaths were provided by nurse practitioners (up from 5% in the last reporting period).
Office of Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health