10/26/2017 12:17 EDT | Updated 10/26/2017 12:21 EDT

More than 600 cases of doctor-assisted death in Quebec in 2016-17

MONTREAL — Quebec doctors assisted 638 people in dying between June 2016 and June 2017.

The provincial Health Department released a report today evaluating the progress of Quebec's doctor-assisted dying legislation that went into effect in December 2015.

During the first six months in which the practice was legal, roughly 167 people died with the help of a doctor.

During the following 12 months, between June 10, 2016 and June 9, 2017, doctors received 992 requests and accepted to carry out the procedure 638 times.

Quebec became the first province in the country to legalize doctor-assisted death.

Patients must meet strict criteria to receive the procedure, including being at the end of their life and suffering from a serious and incurable illness that gives them constant pain.

Last June, Canada passed its own law limiting the right to assisted dying to those whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable.