The CBC article looked into a report published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that stated “Doctor-assisted death could reduce annual health-care spending across the country by between $34.7 million and $136.8 million,”.
CBC reported that “The savings exceedingly outweigh the estimated $1.5 to $14.8 million in direct costs associated with implementing medically assisted dying.”
At the time, one of the authors of the report, Aaron Trachtenberg, stated that “The take-away point is that there may be some upfront costs associated with offering medical assisted dying to Canadians, but there may also be a reduction in spending elsewhere in the system and therefore offering medical assistance in dying to Canadians will not cost the health care system anything extra,”.
In the article with CBC, the author of the report Aaron Trachtenberg says that healthcare costs increase substantially when patients near the end of their lives, and that “Canadians die in hospitals more often than, say, our counterparts in America or Europe and … we have a lack of palliative care services even though we are trying to improve that. And therefore people end up spending their final days in the hospital,”.
Trachtenberg says it would be cheaper to have care for people to die at home instead: “Hospital-based care costs the health care system more than a comprehensive palliative care system where we could help people achieve their goal of dying at home.”
The article was posted after Bill C-14 was passed in 2016 which amended the Canadian Criminal Code to allow for the limited use of medical assistance in dying.
The Canadian Justice Department states that Bill C-14 stuck “an appropriate balance between the autonomy of those individuals seeking access to medical assistance in dying and the interests of vulnerable persons and of society, through amendments to the Criminal Code to allow physicians and nurse practitioners to provide assistance in dying to eligible competent adults in accordance with specified safeguards.”
“The legal effect of the new legislation would be to de-criminalize medical assistance in dying and leave further regulation of the practice to the provinces and territories (PTs) should they so choose.”
However, the Canadian government made changes to the legislation to allow a “broader group of people to be eligible to request and receive” medical assistance in dying
(MAID), which came into effect in 2021.
In the government’s eligibility category, they say “You do not need to have a fatal or terminal condition to be eligible for medical assistance in dying.”
Adding that starting March 17, 2023, “Canadians whose only medical condition is a mental illness, and who otherwise meet all eligibility criteria,” would become eligible for the medical assistance in dying (MAID) program.
The Government of Canada explicitly says “After March 17, 2023, people with a mental illness as their sole underlying medical condition will have access to MAID if they meet all of the eligibility requirements and the practitioners fulfill the safeguards that are put in place for this group of people.”