Conscience rights bill dies in committee

The Catholic Register

Kyle Greenham

EDMONTON — A United Conservative Party MLA has lost his bid to strengthen the rights of health-care providers in Alberta to refuse procedures contrary to their moral beliefs.

Dan Williams’ Bill 207, the Conscience Rights (Health Care Providers) Protection Act, was shot down by his fellow members of the legislature who sit on the assembly’s standing committee for private members’ bills. Eight of 10 committee members voted against the bill’s second reading, including some of Williams’ UCP colleagues.

Neither Premier Jason Kenney nor Health Minister Tyler Shandro had voiced support for the bill. Nevertheless, Williams will continue to advocate for conscience rights. . . [Full text]

Consultation, possible changes after pushback against conscience rights bill

Edmonton Journal

Lisa Johnson

Backbench UCP MLA Dan Williams continued to take heat from the NDP Opposition Monday for introducing conscience rights legislation and offered changes to the controversial bill meant to protect health-care access.

“My intention with offering these amendments is a genuine olive branch, a genuine attempt to say ‘the purpose of this bill is to protect conscience rights, and in no way has any desire to limit access,’” said Williams, MLA for Peace River, in a committee on private member’s bills. . . [Full text]

Lack of public input stalls physician conscience bill at legislature committee

MLA who put private member’s bill forward has already drawn up amendments

CBC News

A wave of public debate over a bill that aims to support the conscience beliefs of medical professionals has the Peace River MLA who drew up the bill already making adjustments. 

Speaking to a legislature standing committee, Dan Williams said he’d had numerous discussions since introducing Bill 207 on Nov. 7, prompting him to draft amendments to address concerns he was hearing. [Full text]

Health minister uncertain about constitutionality of doctors’ conscience rights bill

Calgary Herald

Bill Kaufman

A controversial doctors’ conscience-rights bill won’t impede services for abortion, transgendered people and those seeking medically assisted death, Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Wednesday.

But the minister admitted he isn’t entirely familiar with some aspects of private member’s Bill 207, which passed first reading in the legislature last week.

Those comments came the same day the Alberta Medical Association expressed opposition to the bill, calling it “unnecessary” while saying it threatens to “limit access to patient services.” . . . [Full text]

Conscience rights bill ‘unnecessary,’ says head of Alberta Medical Association

Edmonton Journal

Anna Junker

The head of the Alberta Medical Association says a private member’s bill introduced last week that would protect the conscience rights of medical professionals is “unnecessary and inappropriate,” while the bill’s sponsor and the province’s health minister doubled down that access to health care wouldn’t be affected.

Dr. Christine Molnar, president of the Alberta Medical Association (AMA), wrote to Health Minister Tyler Shandro on Wednesday about her concerns on Bill 207. Also included in the letter were Premier Jason Kenney and Peace River MLA Dan Williams, who introduced the bill on Nov. 7. . . [Full text]

Advocates concerned Alberta conscience rights bill could put trans people at risk

Bill reopens debate on physicians’ conscience rights

CBC News

Jordan Omstead

Advocates say a bill before the Alberta legislature, purported to defend the conscience rights of health-care professionals, could effectively legalize discrimination against transgender people.

Critics say the bill strips the requirement for health-care professionals to refer a patient to another physician if the patient’s needs conflict with their personal or religious beliefs.

“This bill, as it stands, is going to create a situation where there will be legal, government-sanctioned discrimination,” said Holly Tomm, president of the Trans Equality Society of Alberta.

“It needs to be stopped.” . . . [Full text]

Conscience rights bill will infringe on patients’ access to services, legal experts say

Star Edmonton

Nadine Yousif

EDMONTON—Legal experts say a bill tabled in the Alberta legislature that aims to protect conscience rights of health care providers may have dire consequences for access to health care services in the province, despite the assertion of the government that it will not.

Peace River backbench MLA Dan Williams tabled Bill 207 in the legislature on Thursday — he said the bill seeks to affirm the Charter rights of physicians and nurses who object to providing certain medical procedures on the basis of moral or religious obligations. . . [Full text]