OTTAWA, November 5, 2010 – The Catholic Civil Rights League today commented on the results of a recent poll on support for euthanasia in Canada, which found a small decline in support across Canada and real concern about the impact any liberalization would have on vulnerable groups including the elderly, chronically ill or disabled, and those with emotional problems.
“The increase in debate about legalized euthanasia over the past year has had some positive effects, in that people are more aware of the risks that a liberalized law could bring with it,” said League Executive Director Joanne McGarry. “The strong support expressed for better palliative care and other improvements in end of life care are much in keeping with what the League proposed in its submission to the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care.”
The new poll by Environics Research, commissioned by Life Canada, canvassed 2,025 Canadians. Seventy-one per cent of those polled said governments should invest more in palliative and hospice care instead of legalizing euthanasia.
The poll found that while 59 per cent said they support legal euthanasia, the number who “strongly support” has declined by three points since last year. Support is highest in Quebec at 69 per cent, down from 75 per cent a year ago, and lowest in Manitoba and Saskatchewan at 49 per cent.
However, follow-up questions about the effect on vulnerable populations revealed concerns. Sixty-three per cent believed that elderly Canadians would feel pressure to accept euthanasia to reduce health care costs, up from 57 per cent in 2009. Quebeckers, whose government recently completed public hearings on legal euthanasia, expressed the greatest concern, at 75 per cent. Many also said they were concerned that people would be euthanized without their consent: Seventy-eight per cent expressed concern about this, compared with 70 per cent last year.
Ms. McGarry commented that further debate and education could lead to less support for euthanasia and assisted suicide. “There is some genuine confusion of terms when it comes to end-of-life care. Euthanasia and assisted suicide refer only to taking active, intentional steps to end life. Many people believe it also refers to a range of treatment decisions that could shorten life but are motivated, for example, by pain management. Polls like this, and public debate, are part of helping people understand the difference and improve respect for life at all stages.”
The poll was commissioned by LifeCanada and was conducted in September 2010. It has a margin of error of +/- 2.2%.
Catholic Civil Rights League (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization and has chapters across Canada. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
For further information: Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244; firstname.lastname@example.org