A palliative care hospice run by the Delta Hospice Society in B.C., that has comforted over 1000 patients over the past ten years, has been shut down by the B.C. NDP government.
The hospice had a service agreement with the local Fraser Health Authority for a 35-year lease for the land on which the building is located. The hospice receives $1.4 million annually in provincial funding, but had raised $15 million from private donations for its operations.
The Fraser Health Authority broke the lease, claiming that the hospice had failed to comply with its terms. The hospice requested that the Fraser Health Authority explain how it had failed to comply with the service agreement. The agency refused to respond.
The hospice was advised that it must be closed by February 25, 2021 and that all its considerable assets, including those obtained by private donations, would be seized by the government. This government takeover was caused by the hospice declining to provide some of its beds for use for physician-assisted suicide. The hospice did so because it believed that its humane, compassionate care for those approaching death was not compatible with medical assistance in dying (MAID), which provides death by lethal injection. Moreover, there is a facility providing MAID located only 100 yards away from the hospice, to which during the past ten years, about three or four patients have been transferred at their own request.
The government’s decision to terminate the work of the hospice was aided and abetted by the anti-life organization, Dying with Dignity, which engaged in a hostile takeover of the hospice by encouraging its supporters to become members so as to defeat the pro-life policies of the facility. These supporters of MAID even called upon the local Satanic Temple to assist them, encouraging its members to take out memberships in the Society. Dying with Dignity also posted vicious, destructive comments on social and mainstream media, attacking the hospice board members.
The hospice tried to prevent this takeover by seeking court protection and asking pro-life individuals across the country to purchase memberships in the society in order to stave off the hostile takeover.
Both the B.C. Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, however, were not sympathetic to the position of the hospice, stating that if the hospice did not want a takeover, it should have included a definitive policy on palliative care in its bylaws. This was absurd since the MAID legislation only came into effect in 2016 and, at the time the hospice began its work, killing a patient by lethal injection was a criminal offence. There was no anticipation, therefore, that a contrary law would be passed.
The Courts’ support of the takeover by hostile members led the government’s Fraser Health Authority to close the hospice, even though the provision of MAID is an elective service only, and there is nothing in the legislation that requires it to be made available everywhere, at all times, to everyone.
It is noted that this struggle was not about the morality of MAID, but was about the right of dying patients to have a genuine choice as to how they want to live out the remaining days of their lives in an atmosphere free from any fears or pressures of MAID being administered.
One positive result of this tragic takeover of the hospice is that the valiant resistance by the hospice and pro-life members from across Canada has sent a signal to all other governments, that if they want to use the takeover of the hospice in B.C. as a precedent to provide more provisions for MAID, they know they will face strong resistance in doing so.
Today, British Columbia is the only province that has an anti-life, NDP government. Six provinces have Conservative governments and three provinces have Liberal governments. These latter provinces will not likely want to be mired in the struggle that occurred in B.C. over forcing MAID on a palliative care hospice.