At least 631 people have chosen a medically assisted death since it became legal, coroner tells CBC News
While more than 630 Ontarians to date have legally ended their lives with the help of a nurse or doctor, none have been able to do so within the walls of a hospital that has historic ties to the Catholic Church.
But advocates for medically assisted dying argue that since these are public-funded health-care centres, they are bound to offer the option — even though Ontario law currently exempts any person or institution that objects.
It’s legislation that Dying With Dignity Canada may challenge in court, according to the group’s CEO. . . [Full text]
While other provinces try to piece together programs coordinating care for patients who want medical help ending their lives, B.C.’s health authorities have quietly created a system that’s winning praise from advocates.
This weekend, Ontario’s health minister said he hopes to develop a system that would allow patients to bypass doctors who object to assisted death, and connect them with health-care providers who can help. A similar system has been in place across B.C. for months already, according to Sue Hughson of Dying with Dignity Canada’s Vancouver chapter.
“We’re ahead, I’m happy to say. I was reading this (news story) and I was gloating a little bit, although I don’t like to gloat,” she said. . . [Full text]
Ian Shearer had had enough of the pain and wanted a quick, peaceful end, his life marred by multiple afflictions.
But the Vancouver man’s family says his last day alive became an excruciating ordeal after the Catholic-run hospital caring for him rebuffed his request for a doctor-assisted death, forcing him to transfer to another hospital.
The combination of the cross-town trip and inadequate pain control left Shearer, 84, in agony through most of his final hours, says daughter Jan Lackie.
“To hear him crying out, screaming … was just horrible,” said Lackie, breaking into tears as she recalled the day in late August. “That’s what keeps me from sleeping at night … I don’t want any other person to go through what he did.”
Shearer’s experience at St. Paul’s Hospital highlights one of the thorniest issues concerning assisted death: the decision of most faith-based — but taxpayer-funded — health-care facilities to play no part in a practice made legal by the Supreme Court of Canada and federal legislation. . . [Full text]
Winnipeg Free Press
Laura Kane, Canadian Press
VANCOUVER – A major British Columbia health authority has updated its guidelines for medical staff on how to respond to requests for assisted death, allowing doctors and nurses to refer patients to a colleague.
Vancouver Coastal Health first distributed a bulletin on Feb. 5 that advised staff not to provide advice on assistance in dying, but to inform patients that they may wish to speak with legal counsel as a court-ordered exemption may be granted.
Dr. Ellen Wiebe, the Vancouver doctor who recently helped a Calgary woman with ALS die, said the original notice was unacceptable as it appeared to warn staff not to engage in conversations about assisted death.
“The recommendations that went out to clinical units were outrageous,” she said. “It was basically, ‘Don’t talk.’ That’s completely unacceptable. That hurts patients.”
After the health authority issued an updated bulletin on Thursday that advised staff to offer to connect patients with a colleague for more information, Wiebe said she was satisfied. . . [Full text]
The Globe and Mail
A doctor affiliated with a Catholic hospital in a small British Columbia community says the facility’s likely ban on assisted-dying is a violation of terminally ill patients’ charter rights.
Dr. Jonathan Reggler said St. Joseph’s General Hospital is the only hospital in the Comox Valley and as a Catholic facility it generally forbids doctors from helping patients die, although a formal policy has not yet been adopted.
Reggler said terminally ill patients in hospital who want a doctor’s help to die will either be denied that right or have to be moved 50 kilometres to the nearest hospital in Campbell River. . . [Full text]