Bioethics News

Quebec euthanasia deaths soar to three times expected figure

PHIL CARPENTER / MONTREAL GAZETTE    

Almost three times the number forecast have died through euthanasia or assisted suicide in Quebec, according to the province’s first official statistics.  Since the law came into effect on December 10, 262 had died; by the end of the year, the figure will rise to about 300.

Health Minister Gaétan Barrette told the Quebec Assembly that he was surprised. “I mentioned many times that I was expecting about 100,” Barrette said during the news conference. “It’s almost three times that. Actually, on a one-year period, it will be over 300 … that in itself is surprising to me.”

The report says that 87 people requested euthanasia but it was not administered: 36 of them did not meet the criteria set out in Quebec’s law, 24 people changed their minds, 21 died first, one postponed it, and five requests are still being processed.

On a per capita basis, more died in Quebec (45) than Montreal (54), whose population is three times as big.

“It’s normal to see differences between cities,” Barrette explained. “In Quebec City, there’s some form of homogeneity about the general population — it’s French speaking, Catholic and we know that in Quebec, that group has a different relationship with the religious principles … when we look at the social fabric of Montreal, ethnic communities are more numerous proportionally and often more religious.”

The system is operating “very, very. very well”, with all the safeguards in place, according to the Minister. However, about 8% of the deaths were, technically speaking, illegal.

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