Canadian Hospice is still being pressured to do euthanasia

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Sign and share the petition: Hospice Organizations Must NOT be Forced to do Euthanasia.

In February 2018 the Board of the BC Delta Hospice was given an Edict from Fraser Health to provide euthanasia (Medical Aid in Dying–MAiD). At that time, the Board of the Delta Hospice decided not to comply with the edict and continued its good work.

The edict by Fraser Health is contrary to the stated purpose of the Delta Hospice Society constitution.

In December 2019, the Delta Hospice was once again ordered to do euthanasia or lose its government funding.

A spokesperson for Fraser Health told the Delta Optimist

it fully supports a patient’s right to receive medical assistance in dying wherever they may be, including in a hospice setting.

A few weeks later, BC Health Minister, Adrian Dix, stated that he would force the Delta Hospice to do euthanasia or it would lose its funding. In February 2020, Dix gave notice that funding for the Delta Hospice would cease in February 2021.

The Delta Hospice battle continues. 

In response to the funding notice, the Delta Hospice Society declared its intention to change its constitution to declare that it is a faith-based hospice. Faith-based organizations are not being forced to do euthanasia.

A June 10 article by James Smith in the Cloverdale Reporter explains that Delta Hospice declaring itself to be a faith-based hospice is facing opposition from local politicians. A joint letter from political leaders states:

“As Delta’s elected officials, we are united in voicing our concerns with the board’s recent decision to significantly alter its constitution and bylaws, while at the same time seemingly thwarting the efforts of our citizens to have a say in the direction of the society.”

Local politicians are accusing the Delta Hospice of denying regular citizens membership in the hospice organization.

Smith reports that Delta Hospice Society President, Angelina Ireland, explained there are practical reasons why there has to be a limit in membership. 

Smith reports:

DHS president Angelina Ireland said she takes issue with the mayor and company’s characterization of the situation, explaining the society has been inundated with applications and had to “draw the line” for practical, not ideological, reasons. 

“Just to send out this information to our membership now at 1,500 people, it cost us $5,000 in postage. So we can’t afford to have a meeting if the meeting’s going to cost us $20,000. We have to be realistic. And I know that’s difficult for government [to understand] because government has unrestricted funds, unrestricted tax payer funds, to do whatever they want, but we’re just a small society and we just can’t afford to have any more people, not to mention the administrative nightmare of trying to administer to 1,500 members.”

In February Ireland said

that if the government wants to implement medical help in dying then it should create facilities for people who want the procedure, adding that government should not be allowed to put medically assisted death “on the backs” of facilities that provide hospice and palliative care services.

Over the past three years, three people have asked for medically assisted death at the hospice, she said.

“All I can say is they were transferred out to their preferred location — two went home and one went next door to the Delta Hospital, one minute away,” she said

Hospice organizations should not be forced to do euthanasia. 

The Delta Hospice Society is not trying to restrict its hospice services to Christians, but for now at least, the BC government is not forcing faith-based organizations to provide euthanasia.

Smith reported that, according to Dix, the majority of the 3,000 euthanasia deaths in British Columbia were done in the person’s home.

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