No legal basis for faith ban on assisting death

Considerable opposition to the refusal by St Joseph’s Hospital, Comox, to allow medical assistance in dying has deservedly received significant media attention.

Faith-based care facilities are breaking the law which allows assisted dying as a Charter right. They claim that right on the basis of freedom of religion. But only institutions whose major role is to teach or promote religious principles and practice, such as denominational schools and colleges, can claim that exemption.

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Faith-based care facilities cannot make this claim. They are not religious institutions. They serve no religious purpose. They do not teach religion. They offer care to everyone regardless of religion. Their own staff is comprised of people of various faiths or no faith. They are funded by Canadian taxpayers’ dollars.

Canada is a secular country. All Canadian taxpayers should have access to all legally available treatments. Facilities that deny medically assisted dying should suffer significant financial penalties (i.e. reduced public funding).

Dr. Adrian Fine

Dying With Dignity

Victoria chapter

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