Delta Hospice ordered by BC Health Minister to provide euthanasia by February 3

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

An article written by Sandor Gyarmati for the Delta Optimist news reported that the British Columbia Minister of Health, Adrian Dix, has ordered the Delta Hospice Society to do euthanasia (Medical Aid in Dying–MAiD) by February 3 or it may lose its provincial funding.

On December 2, I reported that the Board of the Delta BC Hospice Society that operates the Irene Thomas Hospice in Ladner BC, reversed the position of the previous board and renewed its position opposing euthanasia while supporting excellent care. The Board stated that:

MAiD is not compatible with the Delta Hospice Society purposes stated in the society’s constitution, and therefore, will not be performed at the Irene Thomas Hospice.

“In a letter to staff, volunteers and members, society president Angelina Ireland said the new board’s motion was based on two independent legal opinions that MAiD is not compatible with the purposes of Delta Hospice Society as stated in its constitution,” Gyarmati reported.

Fraser Health, the government agency that allocates health funding in that region, reacted to the Delta Hospice Society by ordering them to provide MAiD by February 3, 2020.

The opposition of the Delta Hospice is not new. In February 2018, the Delta Hospice was ordered by Fraser Health to provide euthanasia. The Delta Hospice did not comply with the edict from Fraser Health at that time.

Recently the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) and the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians released a joint statement upholding that hospice palliative care is not compatible with MAiD. They stated:

Healthcare articles and the general media continue to conflate and thus misrepresent these two fundamentally different practices. MAiD is not part of hospice palliative care; it is not an “extension” of palliative care nor is it one of the tools “in the palliative care basket”. National and international hospice palliative care organizations are unified in the position that MAiD is not part of the practice of hospice palliative care.

Hospice palliative care and MAiD substantially differ in multiple areas including in philosophy, intention and approach. Hospice palliative care focuses on improving quality of life and symptom management through holistic person-centered care for those living with life threatening conditions. Hospice palliative care sees dying as a normal part of life and helps people to live and die well. Hospice palliative care does not seek to hasten death or intentionally end life.

The President of the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians (CSPCP), Dr Leonie Herx, wrote a letter to Adrian Dix, the BC Health Minister. Dr. Herx said that euthanasia is not consistent with the philosophy, intent or approach of hospice palliative care. Dr Herx told Dix not to force Hospice and Palliative Care services to do euthanasia.

If the Delta Hospice is forced to do euthanasia, then all Canadian Hospice groups can be forced to do euthanasia.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.