StatCan Says Mortality Totals Don’t Include MAID Deaths Because WHO Hasn’t Classified the Procedure

A report by Health Canada says there were 13,241 deaths last year due to MAID, which would have made it the country’s sixth-leading cause of death.
StatCan Says Mortality Totals Don’t Include MAID Deaths Because WHO Hasn’t Classified the Procedure
Statistics Canada signage is seen in Ottawa on March 8, 2019. (The Canadian Press/Justin Tang)
Matthew Horwood

At 13,241 deaths in 2022, Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) should be Canada’s sixth leading cause of death, but Statistics Canada isn’t counting assisted dying in its yearly mortality datasets because the World Health Organization hasn’t given the procedure a classification.

On Nov. 27, StatCan released its annual dataset on mortality, which showed a 7.2 percent increase between 2021 and 2022 in the number of deaths from all causes across Canada, with life expectancy decreasing for the third year in a row.

The report found that the top six causes of death were cancer (82,412), heart disease (57,357), COVID-19 (19,716), accidents (18,365), cerebrovascular diseases (13,915), and chronic lower respiratory diseases (12,462).

However, according to Health Canada’s Fourth Annual Report on Medical Assistance in Dying in Canada, there were 13,241 MAID provisions reported in Canada in 2022, which would have made it the sixth leading cause of death. The figure represented 4.1 percent of all deaths in the country that year.
When asked why deaths from MAID were not included in its report, StatCan said in a Nov. 28 post on X that in its database, “the underlying cause of death is defined as the disease or injury that initiated the train of morbid events leading directly to death.”
“Causes of death are coded using the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) 10th revision (ICD-10). ... There is no code for MAID in the ICD,” StatCan told The Epoch Times.
“As such, MAID deaths are coded to the underlying condition for which MAID was requested,” the national statistical agency said.

MAID Expansion Months Away

StatCan told The Epoch Times that under ICD-10 rules, the agency only publishes a single underlying cause of death, which is defined as either the “disease or injury which initiated the train of events leading directly to death” or the “circumstances of the accident or violence which produced the fatal injury.”

Additionally, StatCan said including MAID deaths in the annual dataset on mortality could be difficult because some provinces don’t include MAID on medical certificates of dying even though they are responsible for reporting deaths to provincial and federal vital statistics registries.

“Therefore Vital Statistics is not a reliable source for tracking MAiD. StatCan will continue to classify deaths according to the WHO ICD rules,” the agency said.

Deaths from MAID are expected to grow dramatically in the coming years, as the federal government prepares to expand the procedure to Canadians whose sole medical condition is mental illness. On March 17, 2024, a one-year pause on expanding MAID will come to an end. In March 2023, the federal government put the delay in place to give clinicians and other health system partners more time to prepare.
David Lametti, the justice minister at the time, said the delay would also give more time for the government to consider the parliamentary Special Joint Committee on MAID’s interim and final reports, which were released in June 2022 and February 2023 respectively.

Canada’s MAID regime made international headlines in 2022, particularly after several Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) veterans said they were offered the procedure without having asked for it.

CAF veteran and former paralympian Christine Gauthier testified before the House of Commons Veterans Affairs committee last December on her personal experience. She said that she had been trying to get a wheelchair ramp installed in her home for the past five years, and that when she contacted Veterans Affairs about the issue, MAID was recommended to her.
Conservative MP Ed Fast’s Bill C-314, which would have prevented the expansion of MAID, was defeated during its second reading in the House of Commons on Oct. 18 by a 167-150 vote.