Assisted Dying

The British Columbia Humanist Association supports the right of an individual who has made a clear decision, free from coercion, to choose a physician-assisted death (also known as medical assistance in dying (MAiD). We believe that the promotion of human dignity requires allowing an individual to choose both how to live and how to end their life. People who have made the decision to end their life should have access to the means and assistance to do so with dignity.

We applaud the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Carter v. Canada. Unfortunately, the federal government's legislation has so far failed to live up to these progressive guidelines.

We support the proposed changes to Bill C-7 to eliminate the 10-day waiting period and introduce advance directives for those facing a reasonably foreseeable death. We applaud the inclusion of those with non-reasonably foreseeable deaths (degenerative conditions) but are concerned that the additional barriers this group faces in receiving their wish constitute a hierarchy of suffering between those with a reasonably foreseeable and non-reasonably foreseeable death.

BCHA supports efforts to increase community health services so that people at their end of life, and people with disabilities can receive the in-home support they require. Access to MAiD is never a substitute for promoting the quality of life of vulnerable groups, and their wellbeing must come first. People with disabilities who decide an assisted death is right for them ought to be equally eligible to fulfill their wish as non-disabled people.

We continue to be concerned that many Canadians have been left out of the government's criteria. This includes mature minors, people with mental illnesses and many people with disabilities. We are very concerned about the many people who face extraneous barriers to receiving their wish for an assisted death due to institutional policies. This occurs as a result of the Denominational Healthcare Agreement, which allows religious healthcare institutions to refuse the provision or facilitation of medical assistance in dying on its premises. The effects are tragic; suffering individuals and their families must be painfully moved days or even hours before their planned death, some are denied their wish altogether if they cannot find an alternate location. We believe that this service should be guaranteed through our publicly funded healthcare system and institutions that refuse to provide it should have their corresponding funding for the service removed.

For more on our position on assisted dying, read our most recent response on changes to Bill C-7, and our submission to the federal government’s Committee on Justice and Human Rights On Bill C-7. You can also read our responses in 2015 and 2016.

We will continue to support the work of Dying With Dignity Canada and the BC Civil Liberties Association in pressing for change.

Latest news

The history of institutional religious obstructions

How did we end up in a situation where some publicly funded facilities are permitted to refuse to provide healthcare services in BC? To answer this question we need to look at the history of healthcare in BC and how religious hospitals came to play a part in our medical...

Christian anti-choice group spent $35k opposing MAID

A campaign claiming to speak for "the most vulnerable" has spent tens of thousands of dollars on Facebook ads in the past three months and is being funded by a group of anti-choice healthcare professionals, according to a new analysis by the BC Humanist Association.

In defence of dignity and bodily autonomy

Progressives are still reeling at yesterday's report from POLITICO about a leaked draft majority decision from the Supreme Court of the United States. That decision, from conservative Justice Samuel Alito, would overturn Roe v Wade and lead to the near instant criminalization of abortion in as many as half of the states....

MAID Statutory Review: Dignity in Life - Dignity in Death

A special parliamentary committee reviewing medical assistance in dying (MAID) has the chance to advance the hard-won rights of Canadians to choose a dignified life or death according to submissions made by the BC Humanist Association today. The Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying, consisting of Members of...

Memorials & Grief: A Guide for Humanists and Non-Religious People in BC

The BC Humanist Association has created two guides to discuss issues that humanists and other non-religious people may encounter around the ends of their lives. This guide, on Memorials & Grief, is for anyone non-religious (humanist, atheist, agnostic) and living with the death of a loved one, or simply interested...

End-of-Life: A Guide for Humanists and Non-Religious People in BC

End of life care in Canada has historically been a field of medicine steeped in religion, believed to be the work of Christian chaplains—not doctors—for the purpose of preparing for an afterlife. With a growing number of non-religious people in the world and the multiculturalism of Canada, the landscape of...

Prorogation kills bills to ban conversion therapy, reform MAID

The BC Humanist Association is calling on Members of Parliament (MPs) to commit to the quick reintroduction and passage of two bills this fall after an announcement yesterday that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was proroguing Parliament until September 23. With prorogation all bills are wiped from the order paper. This included...

Christian takeover at Delta Hospice

The BC Humanist Association has heard complaints from Delta residents, echoed by reporting for CBC News, of efforts by the Board of Directors of the Delta Hospice Society to convert the organization into a Christian anti-choice body. Applicants who wish to join the Society are saying they've been denied and...

Don't stop with Delta hospice

Following the announcement that the province will cut $1.5 million in funding to the Delta Hospice Society for refusing to provide medical assistance in dying (MAID), the BC Humanist Association is urging the province to apply the same standards to all publicly-funded healthcare facilities in the province. As reported by...

Government tables bill to expand MAID

Humanists in British Columbia are reacting with skepticism to some of the provisions contained within a new bill purported to expand access to medical assistance in dying (MAID). Canada's Justice Minister David Lametti tabled Bill C-7 today, which amends the Criminal Code restrictions on who can access MAID. The bill...

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