Poll: Canadians Want Palliative Care, Hospice, Not Euthanasia

International   Steven Ertelt   Nov 8, 2011   |   4:55PM    Ottawa, Canada

A new Environics poll conducted for the pro-life group LifeCanada finds Canadians would rather kill the pain of patients rather than patients themselves, as they support palliative care and hospice over euthanasia.

The Environics poll found 95% of respondents want the government to make palliative and hospice care for the dying a high (66%) or medium (29%) priority — making it clear Canadians want improved access to end of life care, but worry about the impact of legalized euthanasia on the elderly.

In the poll 74% also said they worry that if the law against euthanasia changed, a significant number of  elderly, sick and disabled persons would actually be euthanized without their consent. An overwhelming majority, 82%, opposed legalizing euthanasia when the patient does not consent. Of those, 64% are strongly opposed.

LifeCanada tells LifeNews, “Studies show fewer than a third of Canadians have good access to palliative care, which can provide pain relief, emotional and comfort care, and relief of suffering at the end of life.”

“In contrast to the strong support for palliative care, three-quarters of those polled worry that legalizing euthanasia could worsen the growing social problem of elder abuse,” the group said of its survey. “Large majorities in all areas of the country express concern that elderly persons in abusive situations would be pressured to consent to euthanasia. Women (78%) are more likely than men (73%) to be concerned.”

The federal government’s definition of elder abuse was used in the poll: “abusive or controlling behavior a person in a position of trust – such as a family member of caregiver – that causes an older adult physical or emotional harm of loss of property or assets.”

“Legalized euthanasia will bring us something no one wants – killing without consent,” said LifeCanada president Monica Roddis. “Holland and Belgium have shown that. They start out legalizing it only with consent, then slide into doing it without consent on those whose quality of life is considered low. And the excuses for taking a patient’s life keep expanding: the Dutch Medical Association now accepts loneliness as a criterion.”

“We sincerely hope that our Canadian concern for the elderly and weaker members of society will prevent us from opening the door to medicalized killing,” Roddis added.

“As a country we need to focus on killing the pain, not the one in pain,” Roddis said. “That’s what good palliative care can do. It’s a travesty that it is not more accessible to all Canadians.”

The euthanasia poll follows a survey Environics conducted for Life Canada showing 72 percent want to see more legal protections in place for unborn children.

The large poll sample of 2,000 Canadians, conducted in September for LifeCanada, has a margin of error of  +/- 2.2%.