Here’s the deadline given to Delta Hospice

Delta Optimist

Sandor Gyarmati

The Fraser Health Authority has given the Delta Hospice Society a deadline to agree to provide medically assisted deaths.

The new board of the society has been on a collision course with the health region after reversing a decision by the previous board to not allow Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) at the Irene Thomas Hospice in Ladner.

A spokesperson with the region yesterday told the Optimist that the FHA “reached out again to the Delta Hospice Society to share our expectations that they comply to permit medical assistance in dying by February 3, 2020.” . . . [Full text]

Controversial conscience rights bill for Alberta physicians voted down

‘This is a very political thing and a very cynical thing and it is not about physicians’

CBC News

Wallis Snowdon

A controversial private member’s bill that called for more protection for Alberta health workers who invoke conscience rights was rejected Thursday by an all-party committee of the legislature. 

The Conscience Rights Act for Healthcare Workers, or Bill 207  — introduced by Peace River MLA and UCP (United Conservative Party) backbencher Dan Williams — would have meant doctors could not be sued or sanctioned for refusing to provide a service that goes against their moral beliefs. 

Some doctors and patient advocates said the bill would limit access to medical services such as contraception, abortion and assisted dying. . .[Full text]

Committee votes not to send conscience rights bill to house for debate

Edmonton Journal

Lisa Johnson

21 November, 2019

A bill creating special conscience rights for doctors will not move on to debate in the house after doctors and health-care advocates told legislators in a committee meeting Thursday night that it put access to medical care at risk.

A committee voted 8-2 for Bill 207 to not proceed, including 4 UCP MLAs voting against it going to debate.

“No one right is more important than another right. When our rights as human beings come into conflict with each other’s rights, we must always ask ourselves: where is the greater harm?” said Stephanie Shostak of the Trans Equality Society of Alberta at the committee meeting. . . [Full text]

Rally against ‘conscience rights’ Bill 207 gathers hundreds at legislature

CTV News

Alex Antoneshyn

EDMONTON — Criticism swelled on Saturday of a new private member’s bill that would undo a requirement of doctors to refer treatment or service which goes against their beliefs, as protestors rallied at the Alberta Legislature to express their concern.

Sanda Azocar, executive director of Friends of Medicare, called Bill 207, The Conscience Rights Protection Act, an unnecessary piece of proposed legislation that would cause discrimination and harm. . . [Full text]

Protesters say Alberta bill would make it harder to access some medical services

National Post

The Canadian Press

EDMONTON — Opponents of a private member’s bill that calls for more protection for health workers who invoke conscience rights gathered at the Alberta legislature Saturday, arguing the bill would limit access to medical services such as abortions or assisted dying.

Speakers with groups including Friends of Medicare, the Alberta Abortion Access Network and Dying With Dignity told the crowd that people in small communities already have a hard time getting access and advice on some issues. . .[Full text]

UCP MLA denies conscience rights bill limits health care access

Backbench MLA faces continued questions about potential implications of Bill 207

CBC News

Michelle Bellefontaine

The Alberta UCP MLA behind a controversial bill on conscience rights for health care providers says the bill isn’t intended to cut access to services like abortion and medical assistance in dying as critics have charged.

“I feel there is some misinformation about what the bill is trying to do and what it does do,” Peace River MLA Dan Williams told reporters Friday.   

“I want to be absolutely clear. This bill in no way categorically limits access to any services. That was not my intent, that is not what the bill does.” . . . [Full text]

Ban on assisted dying at St. Martha’s hospital should end, says law prof

Religious hospital in Antigonish, N.S., has agreement with province allowing it to forego MAID provision

CBC News

Frances Willick

Nova Scotia’s only Catholic hospital is at risk of being found in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and human rights legislation by refusing to provide medical assistance in dying, a Halifax law professor says.

St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish, N.S., is a publicly funded health-care facility. But due to its religious ties, staff are not permitted to provide MAID. . . [Full text]

Court decision on assisted suicide referrals opens door for other challenges

The Catholic Register

Michael Swan

While doctors who lost their right to practise medicine according to their conscience contemplate a legal appeal, a prominent pro-euthanasia organization suspects faith-based hospitals, nursing homes and hospices may be next to face demands to accommodate euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Dying With Dignity, Canada believes an Ontario Divisional Court decision that compels doctors to refer for euthanasia and assisted suicide may become a springboard to court challenges aimed at the conscience rights of institutions which refuse to assist in the death of patients.

“It’s really interesting. I think that the question is going to be debated in the coming days and weeks, if not months, by lawyers,” Dying with Dignity CEO Shanaaz Gokool told The Catholic Register.

In a unanimous Jan. 31 decision, a panel of three judges agreed that the religion rights of doctors under the Charter are violated by a policy which demands a formal referral for assisted suicide and other procedures. But the judges nonetheless ruled against the doctors because, they said, there is a greater public interest in ensuring “equitable access to such medical services as are legally available.” . . . [Full Text]

Ontario court rules doctors who oppose assisted death must refer patients

The Globe and Mail

Sean Fine

In the first Canadian test of conscience rights for doctors who oppose assisted death, an Ontario court has upheld regulations requiring the objectors to refer their patients to physicians willing to perform the procedure.

Groups representing 4,700 Christian doctors had challenged Ontario’s regulations requiring the referrals, saying that making such a referral was morally equivalent to participating in an assisted death.

But Ontario’s Divisional Court said the referral rule was a reasonable limit on doctors’ freedom of religion because it protects vulnerable patients from harm. And those patients, it said, have a constitutional right to equitable access to publicly funded health care.

Without the policy of “effective referral,” equitable access would be “compromised or sacrificed, in a variety of circumstances, more often than not involving vulnerable members of our society at the time of requesting services,” Justice Herman Wilton-Siegel wrote in the 3-0 ruling on Wednesday. . . [Full text]

Doctors, advocacy groups address proposed law protecting those who object to assisted dying

CBC News

Holly Caruk

Dr. Frank Ewert wants protection from having to help a patient die — but Dying with Dignity Canada doesn’t want that to happen at the cost of patients receiving full access to end-of-life options.

“When I started back a number of years ago and vowed to follow the Hippocratic oath, I meant it. It was very profound to me, it resonated with my core beliefs, that I would always respect life, that I would do nothing to harm a patient,” Ewert told a legislative committee on Monday evening. . . [Full text]