Ottawa, Ontario                                                               July 20, 2020

Extinguishing Palliative Care in Canada

A literal life and death struggle is now taking place in regard to a small, ten-bed not-for-profit palliative care facility in Delta, B.C. called the Irene Thomas Hospice.

In September 2016, the B.C. NDP government ordered healthcare facilities, except those which are faith-based, which receive more than 50% provincial funding to also provide beds for assisted suicide patients.

The Delta hospice has a $3 million budget of which $1.4 million comes from the province and the remainder comes from private donations. The hospice upheld its principles and declined to provide assisted suicide services.

It did so because the concepts of assisted suicide and palliative care are not compatible. Palliative care believes in the dignity of human life and the care and comfort of patients, including appropriate medication to relieve pain so that the patient may have a natural death. The organization Dying with Dignity believes that the sick and/or terminally ill should be permitted to consent to be killed by lethal injection in order to stop their suffering, either psychological or medical, regardless of the fact that any such suffering can be treated with medication and counselling.

When the Delta Hospice Society, which runs the Irene Thomas Hospice, failed to comply with the B.C. government’s directive, the latter wrapped its tentacles around the facility to stifle its life. It advised the hospice that if it continued to ignore its directive, it would lose its provincial funding as well as the lease held by the province on which the facility is located. It further stated that should the hospice fail to comply by February 2021 to provide beds for assisted suicide, the government would expropriate all the private assets of the hospice.

Dying with Dignity has seized the B.C. government’s directive as an opportunity to extinguish palliative care, once and for all, from Canada’s medical system.

Three individuals, which according to evidence, are in collusion with Dying with Dignity, brought a legal challenge against the Delta hospice to stop an Extraordinary General Meeting it had called asking the membership to change the constitution and by-laws. If the resolutions carried, it would have changed the Society into a Christian organization, thus allowing it to claim a faith-based exemption from performing assisted suicide. This legal challenge also demanded that the Delta Hospice Society accept all the membership applications they had solicited from people intent on overthrowing the Board of Directors in order to implement euthanasia.

Justice Sheila Fitzpatrick, like many judges today, relied on politics rather than legal merit, and ruled against the hospice in the extreme. The hospice was forced to cancel the meeting and ordered to accept all applicants who gave a $10.00 membership fee, regardless of their intent, as the board has no discretion to screen members applying to the Society.

The three pro-euthanasia petitioners have now also launched a local membership drive campaign and signed up many, many people with the intent to overthrow the board and implement euthanasia into the hospice. A campaign on social media of personal attacks was also instigated against the staff and board members of the hospice to discredit them and ruin their careers and reputations.

The hospice has appealed Judge Fitzpatrick’s decision. The appeal is to be heard on August 17, 2020. Experience and the reputation of the B.C. Appeal Court gives little assurance that it will rule in favour of palliative care.

The only way the hospice can survive to protect palliative care from the onslaught of euthanasia is to try to obtain membership from members across the country. This is critical, not only because of the NDP government’s unjust and vindictive actions against the hospice, but also because the government’s directive will serve as a precedent in Canada so that all palliative care facilities will be required to provide beds for assisted killing. This will destroy the palliative care movement in Canada.

REAL Women of Canada is calling on its members, their friends and relatives across Canada to rescue this brave palliative care facility in its darkest hour, by becoming a member of the Hospice Society. Membership is only $10. The application is available here. The membership should be taken out by August 17, before the appeal is heard.

REAL Women wishes to thank in advance its members for their care and concern for the future of our country. Our deepest gratitude to you.