Mixed Messages on Organ Donation After Death in Canada

While sizeable majorities of Canadians agree with the practice, significantly fewer have explicitly outlined their wishes.

Vancouver, BC [October 25, 2022] – While a vast majority of Canadians say they want to donate their human organs and tissue after death, few are actually registered to do so, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample, 84% of Canadians support the donation of human organs and tissue after death.

Canadians aged 55 and over are the most supportive of the practice (92%), followed by their counterparts aged 35-to-54 (84%) and aged 18-to-34 (78%).

Two thirds of Canadians (68%) say they would want their organs and tissue to be donated after their death, while 21% disagree and 11% are undecided.

On a regional basis, residents of Atlantic Canada are more likely to say that they would like to donate their organs and tissue after death (79%), followed by those who live in British Columbia and Alberta (each at 71%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (69%), Quebec (66%) and Ontario (64%).

Across the country, only 43% of Canadians say they have registered to be an organ and tissue donor after their death, an “explicit consent” usually expressed in a health card or driver’s licence.

“On the issue of organ and tissue donation after death, the thoughts and actions of Canadians differ greatly,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “While two thirds want to go through with donations, fewer than half have actually registered to do so.”

Some jurisdictions around the world have established “Active Donor Registration” systems for organ and tissue donation. Under these systems, every person over the age of 18 is considered an organ and tissue donor after death unless they specifically opt-out of a registry.

In January 2021, Nova Scotia’s “Human Organ and Tissue Act” came into effect. The law makes every single person who has resided in the province for at least a year a potential organ and tissue donor after death. Nova Scotians who do not wish to be donors are able to opt-out of the system.

Almost two thirds of Canadians (65%, down five points since a similar Research Co. poll conducted in August 2020) want their provincial government to “definitely” or “probably” implement an “Active Donor Registration” system for organ and tissue donation after death.

Support for the implementation of an “Active Donor Registration” system is highest among Canadians who voted for the New Democratic Party (NDP) in the 2021 federal election (74%), but also encompasses majorities of those who cast ballots for the Liberal Party (68%) and the Conservative Party (67%).


Results are based on an online survey conducted from October 1 to October 3, 2022, among 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in Canada. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Find our data tables here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.

778.929.0490 [e] mario.canseco@researchco.ca