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 Rob Shaw in the Vancouver Sun, the Delta Hospice Society's board was taken over by groups opposed to MAID following a membership drive. The Society, which operates Irene Thomas Hospice, violated a provincial policy that requires healthcare facilities that receive at least half of their funding from the province to provide MAID. Religious facilities, such as Providence Healthcare, are exempt from the policy and merely have to provide a referral to another facility.

In an opinion piece in the Vancouver Sun over the weekend, Health Minister Adrian Dix defended the move as putting "patients first" but reiterated that publicly-funded faith-based facilities can operate according to a different set of rules.

The BC Humanist Association (BCHA), who work toward a secular society and support assisted dying "for all who choose it", is renewing its call for the province to end the exemption for faith-based facilities.

Ian Bushfield, Executive Director, BC Humanist Association:

Bravo to the Hon Adrian Dix for his clear words and actions in support of every British Columbian’s right to choose a medically assisted death. However, the continued exemption for faith-based facilities betrays these laudable commitments.

Patients seeking MAID in these facilities are forced to endure an excruciating transfer from their home to realize their rights. These forced transfers undermine the entire premise of a compassionate and dignified death.

The BCHA is also releasing a new analysis that shows the Government of British Columbia continues to provide nearly $1 billion to religious healthcare facilities.

Using the publicly-available financial statements, the BCHA calculates that the total contributions by taxpayers through public health contributions, pharmacare, MSP and other government transfers to the six major faith-based healthcare providers totalled $893,521,451 for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2019.

Government and private funding for religious healthcare institutions in BC

  Government Private Government %
Providence (Catholic) $837,309 $93,312 90%
Louis Brier (Jewish) $12,995 $6,206 68%
Menno Hospital (Mennonite) $10,371 $2,106 83%
Mount St Mary Hospital (Catholic) $12,374 $6,273 66%
St Joseph's (Catholic) $9,568 $5,931 62%
St Michael's Centre (joint Anglican-Catholic-United) $10,905 $2,670 80%

(Tabular amounts expressed in thousands of dollars)

The total amount represents a decrease of over $40 million in funding since a similar analysis was conducted by the BCHA in 2015. This can largely be attributed to the Vancouver Island Health Authority taking over St Joseph's Hospital on October 1, 2017. St Joseph's continues to operate a number of long-term care beds in the Comox Valley. Excluding St Joseph's, funding for the other institutions increased by $63 million in four years.

Each of these institutions receives significantly greater than the 50% public funding threshold set by the province for secular non-profit facilities where MAID is required to be provided.

Banner image: Flickr/bcgovphotos

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