British Columbia

At least 20 medically assisted deaths already recorded in B.C. says chief coroner

There have been about two dozen medically assisted deaths in B.C. since Ottawa passed a federal law permitting the procedure, says B.C.'s chief coroner.

'There may have been a number of people who were waiting for this to become lawful,' says Lisa Lapointe

The B.C. government has introduced a regulation requiring all medically-assisted deaths to be reported to the BC Coroners office. (Radio-Canada)

There have been about two dozen medically assisted deaths in B.C. since Ottawa passed a federal law permitting the procedure, says B.C.'s chief coroner.

Lisa Lapointe made the comments to CBC Radio's On the Islandwhile explaining a new B.C. regulation that requires that all medically assisted deaths be reported to the BC Coroners Service.

'My understanding is there have been between 20 and 30 in the province since June," Lapointe said.

In a follow-up interview, Lapointe said she didn't have a more exact number, noting that the statistics came from a few separate health agencies, including the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons, and health authorities.

Higher than expected deaths

Lapointe said she found the numbers higher 'than I would have initially expected," but noted that the law is new, "so there may have been a number of people who were waiting for this to become lawful."

The rate of medically assisted deaths in B.C. may very well decline over time, she said.

Lapointe made the comments while explaining a new B.C. regulation that requires that all medically assisted deaths be reported to the BC Coroners Service.

She said the new regulation is meant to ensure that medically assisted deaths are properly monitored, that federal guidelines are followed and that records and details of the deaths are maintained.

The coroners service is stepping in to monitor these deaths, but Lapointe noted that in the future Ottawa may establish its own reporting mechanism.

For now, Lapointe said the BC Coroners Service will keep a record of all assisted deaths in the province. This data will be available to the public.

Last month, medically assisted dying in specific circumstances was legalized by the federal government to comply with a 2015 ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada.


To hear the full interview with B.C. Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe, click on the audio labelled: Monitoring medically assisted deaths: Coroner says at least 20 cases since legalization


now