Latest Updates

Fort St John overhauls permissive tax exemptions

In November, the northern British Columbia community of Fort St John approved a new Financial Policy Framework that will require organizations "provide broad community benefits" to be eligible for property tax exemptions.

Under the Community Charter, municipalities are required to exempt certain property like houses of worship from property taxes but can provide additional permissive exemptions to certain other properties. The City provides nearly $800,000 worth of exemptions to various organizations, with religious groups receiving over $255,000 of those exemptions.

Read more

BCHA ED Ian Bushfield named Canadian Atheist Person of the Year

The editor of Canadian Atheist has named the BC Humanist Association's Executive Director Ian Bushfield as the 2020 Canadian Atheist "Person of the Year." The award goes to the person "who had the greatest positive impact in Canadian secularism, humanism, atheism and freethought in 2019."

Canadian Atheist describes itself as an independent blog by Canadian atheists, secularists, humanists and freethinkers. The awards are run by editor Mark Gibbs who solicited input and submissions for nominees from readers. Bushfield was one of the blog's first contributors and still occasionally writes for the publication.

Read more

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 you respond to the government's questionnaire that will inform the coming changes.

Read more

Enshrine evidence-based medicine in healthcare professions

The BC Humanist Association is calling on the government to end the recognition of chiropractors, naturopaths, acupuncturists and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners as part of planned reforms to the regulation of health professionals.

An all-party committee is considering changes to the Health Professions Act. The review follows a previous inquiry that called for a major overhaul of the Colleges and regulatory bodies that oversee medical practitioners in the province.

The committee's current proposal considers merging the province's 20 regulatory colleges to just five. This would mean the abolition of the Colleges of Chiropractic, Naturopathy, and Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture; however, those practitioners would most likely be governed by a new College of Health and Care Professionals instead.

The BCHA's reply to the consultation calls for evidence-based medicine to be a core mandate of each of the five new colleges, which would preclude the inclusion of such unscientific alternative treatments.

Download the reply [PDF]

Read more

Teaching about religion and culture still legal

Over three years ago, I wrote about an allegation that a student in Port Alberni was forced to participate in an Indigenous smudging ceremony in a BC public school.

So as Humanists and secularists, we stand with the parent in speaking out against the forced participation of students in such a ceremony.

Today, Justice Thompson of the Supreme Court of British Columbia dismissed that case, finding that the school district did not infringe the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including the state’s duty of religious neutrality. The entire ruling is worth reading as this was possibly the first case to examine the place of Indigenous spiritual practice in a secular school classroom in the era of reconciliation.

Read more

Secular treatment options available for nurses following AA complaint settlement

Vancouver Coastal Health has agreed to change its policy to permit healthcare professionals to opt for a secular addictions treatment option. The move comes as part of a settlement agreement with Byron Wood, who had filed a human rights complaint after being forced to attend religious based Alcoholics Anonymous by the health region.

The BC Humanist Association had been following Byron's case and has been campaigning to ensure people have access to secular and evidence based addictions treatments.

Read more

Winning the fight against religious privilege

After discussing what we're up against last week, we saw a major change on Thursday when the Legislature agreed to amend its practice of starting each day's session with "prayers" to "prayers and reflections."

Read more

Prayers replaced by 'prayers and reflections' in BC Legislature

Starting in 2020, the British Columbia Legislature will begin each day with "prayers and reflections" instead of "prayers."

The change comes after Members of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia unanimously supported a motion from Government House Leader Mike Farnworth to make the change in the Standing Orders.

Read more

What we're up against

As Humanists, we’re used to fighting the religious right. From the battles over creationism or Bible distribution in public schools to securing the right to a medically-assisted death, we know well how to respond to arguments based on dogma and religious authorities.

But as we continue to push toward a more peaceful, compassionate and secular world, we’re coming up a number of other challenges that threaten our progress.

Read more

The Cost of Religion in Canada Part 1: Canadian Taxpayers Funding the Advancement of Religion

Governments in Canada provided subsidies of up to $2.6 billion for the advancement of religion in 2017, according to a new analysis by the Centre for Inquiry Canada. The Government of British Columbia alone provides as much as $156 million.

The numbers come from the first part of The Cost of Religion in Canada, a report produced with support from the BC Humanist Association. Using data obtained from returns submitted by charities to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), it estimates the cost to taxpayers of providing tax receipts for donations to charities that "advance religion."

Read more



Created with NationBuilder Creative Commons License