Humanists call for end to master agreement with religious hospitals

In light of a series of traumatic stories documenting patients forced to transfer from St Paul's Hospital and other religious healthcare facilities in BC to access a legal medically-assisted death, the BC Humanist Association is renewing calls for the province to end its agreement with sectarian health associations.

  • Sam O'Neill never woke up after being sedating for her transfer from St Paul's to a facility willing to give her a dignified death.
  • Moyna Krussell was also sedated during her transfer from St Paul's, exacerbating an already painful experience.
  • Richard Wilson faced bureaucratic confusion and barriers, ultimately obstructing his access to MAID before he died at home.
  • Ian Shearer suffered an excruciating ordeal during his transfer in 2016.

The Catholic Hospital deprived each of these individuals, and their family and friends, the ability to have a dignified final goodbye.

These are just a few of the stories that have been shared publicly. Between 2019 and 2022, 173 people across BC were forced to transfer due to an unwillingness by a publicly funded religious healthcare facility to provide MAID on their premise. Provincially this represents over 2% of all MAID deaths. In Vancouver Coastal Health, it's over 6.5%.

Religious healthcare facilities have also consistently refused to provide abortion and contraceptives on their premises.

"These brave families have shared their painful stories in the hope of effecting change," said BCHA Executive Director Ian Bushfield. "Yet so far the province has upheld this cruel and discriminatory agreement that puts the beliefs of a few Bishops ahead of patients and the popular will of British Columbians."

A recent poll by Ipsos for Dying With Dignity Canada found that 75% of British Columbians believe that publicly funded health care facilities should be required to provide the full range of health care services, including MAID.

The BCHA is asking supporters to write and call their MLAs to ask them to end the Master Agreement that allows religious hospitals like St Paul's to deny care to their patients.



Further reading

Banner credit: Wikimedia/Joe Mabel

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