Religious hospital in Antigonish, N.S., has agreement with province allowing it to forego MAID provision
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]
The Brickendens are one of the few couples in Canada to receive a doctor-assisted death together, and the first to speak about it publicly
The Globe and Mail
When George and Shirley Brickenden tell the story of how they met, it’s like watching a charming little play unfold – one the couple might have workshopped for seven decades.
It was Christmas in Halifax, 1944. He was in the Navy and she was in the Air Force. Mr. Brickenden’s mother had tried to set them up earlier, but the timing didn’t pan out.
Mr. Brickenden, 95, grinned as he explained why.
“I said, ‘I haven’t got time for her for a few days because I’ve got a few dates.'”
Three of the couple’s four children, sitting nearby, groaned and laughed. They had heard this before.
Mrs. Brickenden, 94, interjected. “I was engaged to somebody else!”
“He’s always saying that he had to break his dates and he never mentions that I already had a ring.”
The Brickendens were reminiscing in a recent interview with The Globe and Mail about their first date – a fairy-tale evening that led Mr. Brickenden to propose marriage six days later – knowing that less than a week after the interview, they would be dead. . . [Full Text]
The Catholic Register
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]
The Globe and Mail
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]
Dying with Dignity Canada says Bill 34 doesn’t protect patients’ rights to access assisted dying
A bill that would protect Manitoba health professionals’ rights to refuse assisted dying services and protect them from reprisals is being called redundant and one-sided.
Bill 34, which was introduced in May and hasn’t yet reached a second reading in the House, would ensure health professionals cannot be compelled to go against their own religious or ethical beliefs when it comes to providing medical assistance in dying (MAID) services.
It would also ban any professional regulatory body from requiring members to participate in medically assisted deaths, which were made legal by the Supreme Court in 2015. . . [Full text]
Shortage of euthanasia practitioners “a real problem”
There were 803 euthanasia/assisted suicide (EAS) deaths in Canada during the first six months after the procedures were legalized. In the second half of the first year (ending in June, 2017) there were 1,179 — a 46.8% increase, and about 0.9% of all deaths. Health Canada correctly states that the latter figure falls within the range found in other jurisdictions where euthanasia/assisted suicide are legal, but the Canadian EAS death rate in the first year was not reached by Belgium for seven to eight years. The dramatic increase of EAS deaths in the last half of the first year would have had a direct impact on EAS practitioners, and this may be why they ended the first year by sounding the alarm about access to the service. . . .[Full text]
As euthanasia rates increase in the Canadian province of Ontario, pressure is mounting on Catholic Healthcare providers to abandon their blanket opposition to Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD).
Over 630 Ontarians have received MAiD since the procedure was legalised in Canada in 2015, according to data from the provincial coroner, yet none of these cases has taken place in a Catholic healthcare facility.
Lobby groups are now calling for sanctions on Catholic healthcare providers, particularly in light of the public funding these providers receive.
Dying With Dignity Canada CEO Shanaaz Gokool told CBA News that her organisation is considering a legal challenge of Catholic hospitals’ right to conscientiously object to participation in euthanasia.
Gokool says that the Catholic healthcare policy of transferring MAiD patients to secular facilities places an undue burden on patients. “It really depends on how precarious their physical medical condition is,” she said. “And if they are in a precarious state physically, then that can cause them more trauma.”
Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins said that access to MAiD was not currently a problem. “We’re obviously monitoring it very, very closely and currently don’t have those concerns in terms of access,” he told CBA News. “And about half of medical assistance in dying happens at home”.
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Kevin J. Jones
TORONTO, Canada – Conscience protections for Catholic hospitals and other organizations could soon come under fire in the Canadian province of Ontario, with one assisted suicide group saying they may challenge this legislation in court.
Deacon Larry Worthen, executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada, warned that it becomes very difficult to defend objections to assisted suicide once it becomes legal.
“Of course our position would be that there should be no requirement for faith-based institutions to be involved in assisted suicide or euthanasia,” the deacon said. “It’s appropriate that not only the institution, but the individuals should be protected as well.” . . . [Full text]
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]
Physicians can make more doing paperwork than performing this legal, but emotionally demanding, service. For many, it’s just not worth it.
Back in March, Dr. Tanja Daws took time off from her family practice to travel from B.C.’s Comox Valley to a remote community on Vancouver Island and provide an elderly patient who was dying and suffering with medical assistance in dying (MAID). After the five-and-a-half hour endeavour, which involved some of the most emotionally and technically difficult work Daws has ever done, the physician calculated that, after factoring in her staffing costs and other office expenses, she had lost about $28 for every hour she worked.
“It struck me that I can’t keep doing this,” says Daws. “I can work for nothing, but I can’t work for a loss.” . . . [Full text]