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. 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 continue to be concerned that many Canadians have been left out of the government's criteria. This includes people with mental illnesses and those facing degenerative conditions. We are also concerned by efforts to restrict access to medial assistance in dying through the dictates of religious healthcare institutions and refusal to provide adequate referrals.

For more on our position on assisted dying, read our responses to the fall 2015 consultations by the federal and provincial governments or our submission to the January 2016 Special Joint Parliamentary Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying.

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

Latest news


New Alberta poll shows overwhelming support for requiring publicly-funded hospitals to provide MAID

A new poll from Dying With Dignity Canada and Ipsos has found that 80% of Albertans support the idea of requiring publicly funded hospitals to provide medically-assisted dying on their premises. The support rises to 86% among non-religious Albertans.

Proposed religious "campus of care" undermines MAiD access

Faith-based organizations that refuse to provide medical assistance in dying should not be awarded new public contracts said the BC Humanist Association in response to news that a Catholic group will be leading a redevelopment plan for a Comox hospital.

Academic studies pave way for expanding MAiD eligibility

A trio of studies released by the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) have provided the scientific and ethical grounding for policymakers to restore access to medical assistance in dying (MAiD), according to the BC Humanist Association. The studies, commissioned by the federal government following the passage of Bill C-14, examine aspects...

Can we die?

By Jocelyn Downie, Dalhousie University and Jennifer Chandler, University of Ottawa More than 2,000 people have died with the help of a doctor since Canada’s new medical assistance in dying law, Bill C-14, received royal assent on June 17, 2016. This legislation has, however, come under sustained criticism for its...

Island Health open to continued funding of faith-based care beds

Religious groups, including those who refuse to provide medical assistance in dying, are eligible for public funding to provide new long-term care beds in the Comox Valley. Vancouver Island Health Authority has been looking to expand the number of care beds in Comox Valley for the past two years. On...

Who will be the doctors of death in a time of assisted dying?

By Craig Goldie, Queen's University, Ontario Medical assistance in dying (MAID) became a reality in Canada when legislation was passed in July 2016. This is the hastening of death through a lethal dose of medication — either by self-ingestion (assisted suicide) or physician injection (euthanasia). More than 2,000 Canadians have...

Take action to expand access to medical assistance in dying

Canadians in suffering earned the right to an assisted death in June, but too many barriers remain in the way. Last week, news broke that a dying Vancouver man was denied a peaceful assisted death at St Paul's Hospital and was required to endure a brutal patient transfer to Vancouver...

Doctors have no right to refuse medical assistance in dying, abortion or contraception

Editor's note: This editorial was originally published in the journal Bioethics under a Creative Commons license. It's a follow up to an article first published by Udo Schuklenk in May 2015 and responded to by Christopher Cowley in December 2015. Unfortunately, both of those articles are behind paywalls. The debate is over...

Bill C-14 becomes law, leaves out classes of people

On Friday, Bill C-14 received Royal Assent and became law in Canada. The bill was the government's response to the Carter ruling that struck down Canada's prohibition on medical assistance in dying. While the bill provides important safeguards to doctors, nurses, pharmacists and family members who assist a suffering Canadian to...

Half of British Columbians strongly oppose granting "conscientious objections" to healthcare institutions

A new poll has found that 71% of British Columbians do not support publicly-funded healthcare institutions being able to refuse to provide services like physician-assisted dying or abortion on religious grounds. A majority – 52% – are strongly opposed. A number of healthcare institutions operated by religious groups, including Providence...

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