Protecting The Right to Conscientious Objection

Reproduced with permission

Kelvin Goertzen, MLA

In 2015 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Canadians could access a medical assisted death with the help of a physician. As part of that decision, the Supreme Court tasked Parliament with developing the legislative framework by which the medical assisted death (otherwise known as MAID) could happen in Canada.

The decision has resulted in a number of different concerns regarding the right to conscientious objection for medical professionals and others. As Minister of Health for Manitoba over the past year, I have heard from many in the healthcare profession who are concerned that they may in the future be required to participate in a MAID procedure as a requirement of their occupation.

While the provincial governments have been mandated by the Supreme Court decision to ensure there is access to MAID, they also have a responsibility to ensure that those who are unable to participate in a medically assisted death due to their personal beliefs or values have protection.

That is why during this past session of the Manitoba Legislature, I introduced Bill 34 (currently in second reading) which is about providing protection to medical professionals and others who may not want to participate, for whatever reason, in a medical assisted death. There was no robust legislation in Manitoba or anywhere else that protected medical professionals so that they would not be required to act in a medical assisted death. Not just doctors, but nurses and other health professionals have asked for legislative means to ensure that this protection exists, not just for today but for the future as well.

The legislation would ensure that now and into the future, an individual could refuse to participate in a medically assisted death without any disciplinary or employment repercussions. It also prohibits a professional regulatory body from requiring its members to participate in a medically assisted death.

In Manitoba we have been a leader in ensuring that a balance is struck between meeting the legal responsibilities flowing from the Supreme Court of Canada and Parliament’s subsequent action and ensuring that medical professionals are able to also act in a way that is in keeping with their own personal convictions and the purpose for which they entered the medical field. The work of the individual professional colleges in Manitoba has been helpful to date in working to protect the rights of medical professionals and the legislation which I have introduced will help to support that work.

I look forward to this legislation being further considered in the fall session of the Manitoba Legislature and to ensuring that medical professionals have their conscientious rights protected.

 

 

Ontario and Manitoba: A Tale of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide in Two Provinces

News Release

Catholic Civil Rights League

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.

For further information:

Christian Domenic Elia, PhD CCRL Executive Director
416-466-8244
@CCRLtweets

Manitoba bill aims to protect staff unwilling to offer assisted death

Doctors or nurses who refuse to help patient die protected from repercussions under new legislation

CBC News

Medical professionals in Manitoba who refuse to help terminally ill patients die will be protected from reprisals under new legislation introduced Tuesday.

Manitoba’s Progressive Conservatives said Bill 34, The Medical Assistance in Dying (Protection for Health Professionals and Others) Act, will ensure staff cannot be compelled to go against their own religious or ethical beliefs.

“The legislation will protect the rights of those who do not wish to participate in medically assisted death for conscience, faith or other reasons,” Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen said.

The move follows announcements last year from two Winnipeg faith-based hospitals, Concordia Hospital (Anabaptist-Mennonite) and St. Boniface Hospital (Catholic), which said they will not provide the service to patients. . . [Full text]

 

Manitoba bill aims to protect staff unwilling to offer assisted death

Doctors or nurses who refuse to help patient die protected from repercussions under new legislation

CBC News

Medical professionals in Manitoba who refuse to help terminally ill patients die will be protected from reprisals under new legislation introduced Tuesday.

Manitoba’s Progressive Conservatives said Bill 34, the The Medical Assistance in Dying (Protection for Health Professionals and Others) Act, will ensure staff cannot be compelled to go against their own religious or ethical beliefs.

“The legislation will protect the rights of those who do not wish to participate in medically assisted death for conscience, faith or other reasons,” Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen said. . . [Full text]

 

Participating in medically assisted death not mandatory for health-care workers

New provincial bill similar to federal law

Winnipeg Free Press

Larry Kusch

The provincial government introduced legislation Tuesday that would prevent sanctions against a health professional who refuses to participate in a medically assisted death.

In introducing Bill 34, The Medical Assistance in Dying (Protection for Health Professionals and Others) Act, Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen said it would ensure medical professionals are not disciplined for their beliefs.

“The legislation will protect the rights of those who do not wish to participate in a medically assisted death for conscious, faith or other reasons,” he told the legislative assembly. [Full text]

 

Medically assisted dying team in Manitoba doubles in size

More than 100 people have contacted the MAID team since February 2016; 4 doctors added in response

CBC News

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has more than doubled the number of physicians involved in medically assisted deaths in Manitoba after more patients requested the help than the province initially expected.

More than 100 patients have contacted the Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) team with 24 receiving medically assisted deaths as of Jan. 6, according to statistics provided to CBC Manitoba by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. . . [Full text]

 

At least six Manitoba hospitals refuse to provide euthanasia, assisted suicide

Faith-based hospitals reject euthanasia

Winnipeg Free Press

Kristin Annable

At least six faith-based health-care facilities in Manitoba — including two Winnipeg hospitals — will not be providing medically assisted deaths to their patients or long-term care residences.

Officials from St. Boniface Hospital told the Free Press Monday patients seeking medical assistance in dying will have to go to another facility to have the service offered.

Other medical care facilities under the Catholic Health Corp. of Manitoba umbrella, including St. Joseph’s residence in northwest Winnipeg, Ste. Rose General Hospital near Dauphin, and Winnipegosis and District Health Centre will also follow suit, explained the corporation’s CEO, Daniel Lussier. . . [Full text]

Faith-based hospitals in Winnipeg ban medically assisted deaths

St. Boniface General Hospital and Concordia Hospital conscientiously object to legal practice

CBC News

Laura Glowacki

Two faith-based hospitals in Winnipeg say they will not be providing doctor-assisted deaths to their patients.

Both Concordia Hospital (Anabaptist-Mennonite) and St. Boniface Hospital (Catholic) say they will not offer the legal service to patients.

In June, the federal government amended the criminal code with Bill C-14 to allow doctors and nurse practitioners to help patients with “grievous and irremediable” illnesses to die. Manitoba introduced its own policy to implement medical assistance in dying, commonly called MAID, that same month. . . [Full text]

Manitoba pharmacists under attack for protection of conscience policy

The adoption of a protection of conscience policy not dissimilar to those existing in some pharmacy associations in the United States triggered an attack by the Winnipeg Sun in an editorial titled Pharmological farce. (See Project’s response) Coverage in the National Post and Winnipeg Free Press was more balanced. CBC Radio in Winnipeg hosted an open-line programme on 8 June concerning the issue.

 

Pharmacists for Life applaud Manitoba Colleagues for protection of conscience guideline

 News Release

Pharmacists for Life (Canada)

Pharmacists for Life Int’l/Canada (PFLI/Canada) is an educational group concerned with sanctity of human life issues affecting the profession.  We appreciate and applaud the noble decision of the Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association to include in their Standards of Practice a statement which allows the professionals that they regulate to follow their conscience in the practice of this health care profession.

Since the statement does not force a pharmacist to dispense or make referrals for products or services “in which they have a medical, ethical, moral or religious objection to, the Association shows its recognition of the pharmacist’s autonomy and integrity.  By allowing a freedom of conscience, pharmacists are not impaired in the proper exercise of professional judgment and skills”, said Mr. Michael Izzotti, coordinator of PFLI/Canada.

For many years the profession has been encouraging all pharmacists to become more involved in the practice of “pharmaceutical care”, in which pharmacists provide cognitive services to the public, as well as, supplying products which are intended to achieve specific “health outcomes” for the patient. Mr. Izzotti stated that in the provision of pharmaceutical care, “causing death of a human being is not included in the list of “health outcomes.”  He also stated, “that to many pharmacists, the practice of proper pharmaceutical care would exclude the provision of any products that are intended to cause death, including chemicals for assisted suicides, euthanasia and those which can cause abortions.”

Contact: Michael Izzotti, Coordinator PFLI/Canada Tel:  (905)528-4828    Fax: (905)528-5593