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

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...

Tell the Government to expand access to MAID

Following a Quebec Supreme Court ruling that the existing restrictions on medical assistance in dying in Canada are unconstitutional, the federal government is looking to expand the eligibility requirements. In line with our position on medical assistance in dying, the BC Humanist Association has created the following guide to help...

Doctors' duty is to their patients, not their own interests: Ontario Court of Appeal

The Ontario Court of Appeal has unanimously upheld a policy that requires doctors provide an effective referral if they refuse to provide a medically assisted death. The decision builds upon a lower court ruling. The ruling clearly sets out that religious beliefs cannot be used to deny patients healthcare.

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...

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