The Canada Experience

To assess the potential dangers of ‘assisted dying’ and euthanasia laws, it is important to consider the experience of other countries that have introduced the practices. We took an in-depth look at Canada – perhaps the most similar nation to the UK culturally, socially, and politically. Legislation allowing ‘Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD)’ was introduced in Canada in 2016. Read our essays on the Canadian experience below.

A ‘gradual then sudden’ change

Ernest Hemingway famously wrote that one goes bankrupt in two ways: gradually, and then suddenly. Euthanasia became legal in Canada in much the same way. Known as Medical Assistance in Dying, it has been available across the country since 2016. But the law which was passed by parliament that summer was only the end of the process, which was at first grinding along slowly, and then very quickly.

Incremental extension

It has been just five years since the very first patient died under Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) laws. Yet in that short time, the country’s euthanasia regime has slipped down the slope with alarming speed. The numbers choosing to die have soared. Eligibility for MAiD has been vastly expanded. Those opting out on conscience have been harangued or harassed into compliance.

Changing attitudes to mental health conditions

For years, Canada held firm convictions about suicide. It had compassion for those who feel like they want to take their own lives, and did everything in its power to stop them. But this is no longer the case. When the new, amended MAiD law comes into force in 2023, not only will the state formally endorse the suicidal ideation of those with depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and a plethora of other conditions, it will actively facilitate it.

Sources

Explore evidence on the Canadian experience on our sources page.