Number of medically assisted deaths rose in 2017
The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, October 7, 2017 11:36AM EDT
Health Canada says there were 1,179 medically assisted deaths between Jan. 1 and June 30 this year, accounting for about 0.9 per cent of all deaths nationally.
In the previous six months, the first half-year in which medical assistance in dying was legal, there were 803 assisted deaths, or 0.6 per cent of all deaths.
The department says the overall numbers are consistent with international experience.
Cancer was the most frequent underlying medical condition in assisted deaths, cited in 63 per cent of cases.
The Health Canada findings in its second interim report on medical assistance in dying say the average patient was 73 at death.
While some patients were between 18 and 45 at the time of death, the vast majority of cases involved people aged 56 to 85.
The report says there was a slight decrease in the number of patients dying in hospitals, with more people choosing to end their lives at home.
The law allowing medical assistance in dying went into effect in June 2016.
Since then provincial laws dealing with assisted death have been clarified or expanded and other changes are likely.
"It is expected that how services are organized, delivered and monitored will continue to evolve as data becomes more available and jurisdictions are able to evaluate existing policies and service delivery models," the report said.