Toronto, ON May 23, 2017 – How can governments in two provinces come to such opposite conclusions?
As assisted suicide spreads its nefarious presence across the country, provincial governments in two provinces have moved in opposite directions when it comes to recognition of the Charter right of freedom of conscience and religion of healthcare professionals in dealing with the practice.
In Ontario, on May 9, two days prior to the March for Life in Ottawa, Bill 84 passed at third reading 61-26. The new law received royal assent on May 10, and the self-reporting regime of assisted suicide has now been enacted, without any additional provision for clarification of conscience rights of doctors or healthcare workers. In thousands of letters and petitions, and despite the significant majority of in person submissions to the legislative committee studying the bill, the enshrinement of clear conscientious protections was denied.
Last week, a private members bill from Ontario MPP Jeff Yurek, to stipulate such conscience recognition, likewise faced defeat at the hands of the ruling provincial Liberal government.
This same government will send its lawyers next month to oppose a court challenge of the rulings of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), which enacted a requirement that objecting physicians provide an effective referral to patients seeking death, or other morally repugnant treatment demands.
In Manitoba, Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen introduced Bill 34 on May 16, legislation to provide for assisted suicide in that province, with specific provisions to protect doctors and healthcare professionals from having to participate, or refer, or face disciplinary proceedings for exercising their rights to conscience. “The legislation will protect the rights of those who do not wish to participate in a medically assisted death for conscience, faith or other reasons,” he told the legislative assembly.
The proposed Manitoba bill allows for an individual to be protected from disciplinary or employment repercussions for refusing to participate in assisted suicide requests, in full recognition of the importance of the personal convictions of the healthcare provider. Bill 34 further prohibits a provincial regulatory body from requiring healthcare professionals from participating in assisted suicide.
The Ontario law also suppresses data collection regarding medically assisted suicides, a position opposed by the Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, and the CCRL, in the legislative committee hearings.
Several doctors who presented their positions at the Ontario legislative committee made absolutely clear their opposition to the imposition that assisted suicide would have on their practices, in particular those involved in palliative care. The experience of other jurisdictions has shown that demands for pain management, or palliative care resources, decrease when assisted suicide becomes an available course of action.
We now observe that when it comes to conscience rights, Ontario stands alone in greasing the wheels of assisted suicide requests.
About the CCRL
Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) 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. The CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization with a large nationwide membership base. The CCRL is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
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