The B.C. NDP government has demanded that palliative care services include physician assisted suicide.
The Irene Thomas Hospice, which is a ten bed palliative care facility located in Ladner B.C., has refused to comply with this directive, even though threatened with the loss of provincial funding and its lease on land held by the provincial government.
The problem began in September 2016 (only 3 months after the physician-assisted suicide law – MAID – became law) when the B.C. Fraser Health Authority, which provides health funding in the region, directed health institutions that receive more than fifty percent provincial funding, to provide assisted suicide in their services.
The hospice receives $1.4 million in funding from the province, of its total budget of $3 million. The remaining money comes from private donations.
The hospice, which is not faith-based (the latter are exempted from the directive), is operated by a non-profit board. The board has refused to comply with the directive because medical assisted suicide is not compatible with palliative care.
The hospice did agree, however, that it was prepared to give up $750, 000 in government funding in order to fall below the fifty percent funding threshold to avoid providing assisted suicide to its patients.
The hospice is supported in its position by the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) and Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians, which, in a joint statement, upheld the fact that hospice palliative care is not compatible with MAID, and that assisted suicide is not one of the tools in the “palliative care basket”. Further, it stated that national and international hospice palliative care organizations were unified in the position that MAID is not part of the practice of hospice palliative care.
What is so odd about the B.C. government’s demand is that a hospital providing assisted suicide is located just minutes away from the hospice, where a patient could be referred for death, if so desired.
It appears, therefore, that the B.C. NDP Government is forcing euthanasia into palliative care services to create a precedent so that all palliative care services across Canada will also be forced to provide assisted suicide.
At the time of this writing, the hospice remains determined to uphold its principles and reject euthanasia procedures within its facility. This has occurred even though, according to the board’s chair, Angelina Ireland, there has been a constant barrage of personal attacks on social media directed at the staff and board members of the hospice to discredit them and ruin their careers and reputations within the community. There is also an active chapter of Dying with Dignity, an euthanasia lobby group which is working aggressively against the hospice, because the latter sends the message that euthanasia is morally wrong, and is an improper way to treat terminally ill patients.
Please write to the B.C. Minister of Health, Adrian Dix, to request he stop his demands to force palliative care facilities to provide assisted suicide.
Minister of Health Adrian Dix
Room 337 Parliament Buildings
Victoria, B.C. V8V 1X4