Sir, – Despite the suggestion from a number of doctors (Letters, June 10th) to "avoid any reference to slopes, slippery or otherwise", when discussing euthanasia, we cannot describe the recent Canadian experience in any other way.
As rural and urban physicians who offer palliative care in Alberta, allow us to make a number of observations.
First, the number of deaths by euthanasia in Canada has risen by 648 per cent in just five years – from 1,015 in 2016 to 7,595 in 2020.
Second, the grounds for euthanasia in Canada have now expanded considerably in that same timeframe. Our parliament voted in March of this year to approve euthanasia on the grounds of mental illness alone. Furthermore, the amended law removed many of the safeguards intended to protect the vulnerable from wrongful death, and the government has yet to start the promised five-year review of the 2016 law.
Finally, instances of abuse of the system have regularly come to light.
For example, it was widely reported in the media here that in October 2020, Nancy Russell, who lived in a Toronto nursing home, opted to die by euthanasia. What makes her situation peculiar is that she didn’t have a terminal illness – she simply didn’t want to live through another Covid-19 lockdown. Shirley Turton in British Colombia also opted for and received euthanasia in order to avoid another lockdown.
If the Canadian experience cannot be described as a slippery slope, then we don’t know what could be. – Yours, etc,
Dr LUKE SAVAGE,
Dr KEILY WILLIAMS,