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

Why is Ontario forcing docs to participate in euthanasia?

Toronto Sun

Editorial

From the beginning of the debate over the now legal medical procedure of medically assisted dying, politicians have simply assumed doctors would do it.

Why? Why assume all doctors (and nurses) would be comfortable with this burden?

Especially since the medical professionals most likely to encounter requests for euthanasia would be those devoted to palliative care, to giving their patients as good a quality of life as possible in the final stages of life.

Canada’s assisted dying law does not require doctors to provide medically assisted death personally.

But in Ontario, they must refer the patient to a doctor who will do it, known as effective referral, which many medical professionals say violates their conscience rights not to participate in the euthanasia process. . . [Full text]

 

Ontario conscience rights bill voted down

Catholic Register

Michael Swan

In a strict party lines vote, a bill that would have shielded doctors and other health care providers from punishment for refusing to refer their patients on for assisted suicide was voted down at Queen’s Park on May 18.

In a recorded vote, 39 Liberals and New Democrats voted against Bill 129, Jeff Yurek’s private members’ bill aimed at protecting the conscience rights of doctors and other health care professionals. All 23 Progressive Conservatives backed their health critic’s bill.

Focus now shifts to the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada’s court challenge to the forced referral policy of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. Three days of oral arguments are scheduled for Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Divisional Court June 13-15. . . [Full text]

 

Bill Allowing Ontario Doctors to Reject Assisted Suicide Fails

Ontario doctor: “Making a referral [for assisted suicide] is being complicit in the act of killing a patient”

Church Militant

Bradley Eli

TORONTO (ChurchMilitant.com) – A bill, allowing Ontario’s doctors to opt out of assisted suicide, has failed to pass.

On Thursday, Ontario’s legislative assembly voted down Bill 129, which would’ve shielded doctors from having to refer suicidal patients to doctors, who would help kill them. . .  Bill 129 would have protected doctors from prosecution when they refused to be complicit in killing patients. The bill reads, “A member shall not be subject to (liability or disciplinary penalty) for refusing to participate, directly or indirectly, in medical assistance in dying.” . . .  [Full text]

 

Health care workers bring case for conscience rights to Ontario legislature

Catholic Register

Michael Swan

Armed with letters of support from religious community leaders, plus the official positions of the Ontario, Canadian and American Medical Associations, health care professionals descended on Queen’s Park May 18 in support of a Progressive Conservative private members’ bill that would shield doctors from punishment by the College of Physicians and Surgeons and other regulatory bodies if they refuse to refer for medically assisted suicide.

As the doctors entered the provincial legislature at 9 a.m., security staff warned the doctors they would not be allowed to sit in the public gallery that rings the law makers if they wear their scrubs, as that would be considered a form of protest.

Wearing her scrubs, Concerned Ontario Doctors president Dr. Kulvinder Gill made the case for Conservative health critic Jeff Yurek’s Bill 129 at a 9:45 a.m. press conference. . . [Full text]

 

Take us out of assisted dying referral process: Doctors

Toronto Sun

Kevin Connor

TORONTO – Many Ontario doctors and nurses working in palliative care say their objection to playing a role in assisted suicides may force them to leave the medical profession.

That was the message about two dozen physicians, nurses and pharmacists brought to Queen’s Park on Thursday morning prior to the introduction of Tory MPP Jeff Yurek’s private member’s bill (Bill 129), which is designed to amend the Medical Assistance Dying Statute Law.

The current assisted dying law permits health-care providers to refuse participation in helping patients die on the basis of their conscience or religious beliefs.

What the health-care providers at Queen’s Park object to is the requirement that forces them to make referrals for critically-ill patients seeking an assisted death. . . [Full text]

 

Yurek introduces private member’s bill

St. Thomas-Elgin Weekly News

Mike Maloney

Unable to get an amendment to the government’s Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) legislation passed during committee meetings on the subject, Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek has decided to go it alone and put the issue before the Ontario Legislature.

On May 3, Yurek, who is also the Ontario PC party’s health critic, introduced a private member’s bill that if passed, would amend the government’s MAID legislation to protect the conscience rights of healthcare providers. It would make their participation voluntary, allowing healthcare professionals to refuse directly or indirectly to participate in MAID if it violates their conscience or religious beliefs . . . [Full text]

 

Conservative MPP Yurek keeps up fight for conscience rights with bill

The Catholic Register

Evan Boudreau

The Ontario Liberals’ rejection of amendments to its assisted suicide legislation leaves MPP Jeff Yurek “very disappointed” but not defeated as the Conservative prepares to introduce a private member’s bill to protect conscience rights for doctors and health care workers.

On May 18, the Conservative’s bill will be brought forward to the legislature for an evaluation of the pros and cons. While Yurek expects scrutiny similar to that which faced Bill 84 amendments, he’s still hopeful to garner support from the majority of his political peers.

But that will require the votes of Liberal MPPs, who Yurek hopes will be influenced by their conscience and not the will of party leaders. . . [Full text]

 

MPP Yurek introduces private member’s bill to protect conscience rights

News Release

For immediate release

Jeff Yurek

QUEEN’S PARK – This morning Ontario PC Health Critic MPP Jeff Yurek (Elgin-Middlesex-London), introduced his private member’s bill that would amend the government’s medical assistance in dying (MAID) legislation to protect the conscience rights of health care providers.

Yurek’s bill, An Act to amend the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 with respect to medical assistance in dying, will make participation in MAID voluntary. The amendments will allow health care professionals to refuse to directly or indirectly participate in MAID if it violates their conscience or religious beliefs, without facing discipline from their regulatory college.

“There are ways for the government to ensure access to MAID while not infringing on freedom of conscience,” stated Yurek. “Provinces such as Alberta have proposed a self-referral system that respects patient wishes while not infringing on freedom of conscience. These are basic rights we have in Canada that the Liberals are ignoring. Not only did they Liberals omit protection of conscience rights in their legislation, they voted against Ontario PC amendments that would have addressed this important issue.”

“Only the PCs have continued to stand beside our doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals.  They should under no circumstances should be forced to participate in medical assistance in dying. It is my hope that the Liberal members will support my Bill to protect the rights of health care professionals across our province.” concluded MPP Jeff Yurek

The bill will be debated on May 18, 2017.

CONTACT: Whitney McWilliam
P: 226-448-6741
E: whitney.mcwilliam@pc.ola.org

No conscience rights protection for health care providers

The Sachem
Reproduced with permission

Sam Oosterhoff

In March, I attended hearings for Bill 84, the Medical Assistance in Dying legislation put forward by the provincial Liberals.

I listened to doctors, nurses, ethicists, religious leaders and human rights advocates who had travelled from across Ontario to bring forward their concerns about this law. After the federal Liberal government legalized physician assisted suicide last year, they wanted to ensure there was adequate consultation in the provincial implementation.

Faced with the situation of legal physician assisted suicide, health professionals need clear and explicit conscience protection so that they will not be forced to take part and contradict their deeply held personal convictions.

Conscience rights are fundamental human rights which are clearly protected in our country under Section 2(a) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Yet Bill 84 offers no protection for the conscience rights of health professionals.
Since Bill 84 was introduced last December, my office has been flooded with phone calls, emails, and visits from constituents who are concerned with the lack of conscience protections in the bill.

Some doctors say that they would have to leave the practice of medicine in Ontario if they were forced to act against their conscience. Physicians should not be punished for conducting their work according to their most deeply-held ethical or religious convictions.

The Ontario PC Party put forward two amendments that would have provided robust conscience protection. We believe health care professionals should not be forced to refer for, perform or assist in physician assisted suicide against their will and should not be discriminated against for taking this stand. Unfortunately both amendments were rejected by the Liberal majority on the committee.

Larry Worthen of the Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience told the committee: “We want to reassure you that there is another way. No foreign jurisdiction that has legalized assisted suicide has required doctors or nurses to participate against their will, and there’s no indication that this has caused any crisis in access. Other provinces — specifically Alberta — have come up with innovative options.” Ontario can and should do the same.

My colleague Jeff Yurek, the health critic for the PC Caucus, will be introducing a Private Member’s Bill in May as another way to fight for conscience protection in Ontario.  I will continue to fight for conscience rights, and I encourage you to contact my office to share your thoughts and perspective on this very sensitive and important issue.


Sam Oosterhoff is the MPP for Niagara West-Glanbrook