A Canadian public health care regulatory agency has recently enacted a controversial new rule requiring hospice facilities to provide euthanasia, leading to backlash by some of those set to be impacted.
As Life Site reported, British Columbia’s Fraser Health Authority handed down the ruling to the protest of both hospice professionals and officials in the authority who felt it violated their convictions.
According to the Vancouver Sun, Fraser Health Palliative Care Program’s medical director, Dr. Neil Hilliard, resigned late last year over mandates included in a set of regulations collectively known as MAiD, or medical aid in dying.
In his resignation letter, he wrote that palliative care “affirms life and regards death as a normal process,” expressing his belief that euthanasia runs contrary to that mission.
One company with a government contract to provide hospice care in British Columbia has described the MAiD expansion as a bullying tactic by the regulatory agency.
As Janice Strukoff, an administrator at Delta Hospice Society, explained, “palliative care is not about hastening death and we object to the bullying currently taking place in B.C.”
A number of politicians gathered earlier this month to express their worries about the new mandate and hear concerns from locals, according to the Surrey Now-Leader.
Kathy Derksen, executive director of a Langley hospice facility, was among those in attendance. She noted that the mandate was never supposed to include such care.
Reports indicate that Fraser Health officials discussed the plan with affected groups and initially confirmed hospice and palliative care facilities would be exempted from MAiD.
Much of the concern has revolved around faith-based facilities, which were given an exemption that some critics say does not go far enough.
As Terry Lake, who served as health minister at the time, explained, the MAiD policy stated that “if the hospice received more than half of the funding from the health authority, they should provide the service if requested” and if “they were mostly charity funded, they did not have to, but still had to inform patients when they entered the facility about the policy.”
Opponents like B.C. politician Mary Polak, however, say exemptions to the euthanasia law should not be limited to those with a religious objection.
“This goes way beyond people who are traditionally pro-life,” she said.
Polak went on to describe MAiD as a method of “killing people,” insisting the rules “completely contradict what palliative care is to begin with.”
Delta Hospice Society Founder Nancy Macey shared similar thoughts, explaining the process of ending lives artificially can cause pain for both care providers and patients.
“Providers of hospice palliative care are extremely concerned about the negative impact of MAiD and hospice care being provided in the same facility,” she said.
In addition to the emotional toll on staff, Macey explained some individuals would likely stay away from such facilities if they believe euthanasia will be promoted.
The Sun reported in December that British Columbia has the highest per-capita rate of doctor-assisted suicide in Canada, with roughly 55 individuals choosing to end their lives every month.
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