Humanists call on BC Health Minister to adopt assisted dying recommendations

The BC Humanist Association today called on BC Minister of Health Terry Lake to reverse his decision to refuse recommendations to guarantee access to assisted dying through the BC health care system.

The all-party Select Standing Committee on Health had presented its recommendations on assisted dying regulations in BC following a year-long consultation with British Columbians. Rather than adopt the recommendations, the Minister and BC Government instead chose not to endorse the report until the federal government acts.

The committee had recommended that the province set up a reliable system of referrals to ensure that eligible patients can access physician assisted dying no matter where they live. Physician assisted dying should also be integrated as a choice along a "continuum of care" for patients facing excruciating, incurable suffering.

For more on this story, see Dying With Dignity Canada and the Vancouver Sun.

Tomorrow the BC Humanist Association will be taking part in the November 4 National Day of Action and Solidarity for the Right to Die with Dignity in Vancouver.

Here's the letter sent to Terry Lake, Premier Christy Clark, and their opposition counterparts.

Dear Minister:

We are extremely disappointed to learn that you refused to adopt the recommendations on assisted dying put forward by the all-party Select Standing Committee on Health today. This committee reached out to British Columbians who gave clear and overwhelming support for the province to adopt guidelines that would guarantee access to assisted dying.

While the new federal government considers its options, other provinces are taking leadership on this important issue. Quebec has already passed legislation on assisted dying that is set to come into force within weeks. Ontario, meanwhile, has worked with the provinces and territories to create a national consultation and an advisory group of patient, health care, ethics and legal experts from across Canada to examine physician-assisted dying. British Columbia, notably, opted to be the only province to participate in Ontario’s consultations as an observer.

We urge the Government of BC to stop delaying and to adopt the recommendations that will allow British Columbians to choose a dignified death.

Yours sincerely


Ian Bushfield
Executive Director
BC Humanist Association

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