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 March 9, Island Health released a request for proposal (RFP) for companies to bid on 120 new beds. The RFP is open to all non-profit, for-profit, faith-based and secular providers.
Currently, one-third of care beds in the Comox Valley are operated by The Views. The Views is run by the Catholic St Joseph's Hospital that refuses to provide medical assistance in dying (MAiD) on its premises and even forbids staff from discussing their legal options with patients. The Views is considering submitting a bid for the new beds.
If The Views or another facility that refuses to provide MAiD wins the bid, more people in the Comox Valley will be denied choice in dying.
Equal Access Comox Valley, who have previously fought against the transfer of care beds from secular to faith-based facilities, has launched a petition calling for facilities that refuse to provide MAiD to be excluded from the RFP process.
The BC Humanist Association wrote to Island Health and Minister of Health Adrian Dix on March 28 to call for faith-based groups to be excluded from the RFP. Read our letter.
Included in the recent announcement was a note that one of the selected bidders will need to provide for six hospice beds in a facility that allows MAiD on site. This includes four beds currently located at The Views will be relocated to the successful proponent's site.
This stipulation was a result of activists like Equal Access Comox Valley and others expressing their support for MAiD options.
The RFP is posted on the BC Bid website (document no 940) and proposals are being accepted until May 11, 2018. Should the RFP process be successful, Island Health is aiming for the new beds to be ready for occupancy in 2020.