New poll shows near-unanimity in Humanist support for physician-assisted dying

Nearly all Humanists support the Supreme Court of Canada's decision that Canadians should have the right to a physician's assistance to die according to a new poll.

One year ago the Supreme Court struck down Canada's absolute prohibition on physician-assisted dying. The new poll, conducted by Ipsos Reid for Dying With Dignity Canada, found that 98% of atheists, agnostics and Humanists support the decision as well as 93% of those with no religious identity.

Overall, 85% of all Canadians supported the decision, including 83% of Catholics and 77% of other Christians.

Ian Bushfield, Executive Director, BC Humanist Association:

Humanists are nearly unanimous in our support of the right to die with dignity. But even more than that, an overwhelming majority of Catholics and Protestants also support the decision. Yet we are still faced by a culture of suffering in church leadership that ignores the views of their congregants and of Canadians.

This disconnect is set to cause real harm and suffering by the fact that many hospitals and health institutions across Canada are still run by religious institutions. These organizations are now demanding a veto over their patients' personal medical decisions while collecting billions of dollars from the public.

It's time for a wholly secular public healthcare system that respects patients' choice.

Religious hospitals receive around $1 billion in public funding in British Columbia. This includes the Catholic Providence Health Care which operates several hospitals, long-term care facilities in Metro Vancouver, and St Joeseph's Catholic Hospital in Comox. Catholic Bishops in Alberta are demanding the right for doctors to refuse to even refer a patient requesting an assisted death to another physician or information source.

In its submission to the Parliamentary committee tasked with developing a legislative response to the Supreme Court decision, the BC Humanist Association called institutions that refuse to permit assisted dying to have their funding removed.

Read Dying With Dignity Canada's press release
Read the full results [PDF]

More about the poll:

The poll was conducted between Feb. 2 and Feb. 5, 2016. A sample of 2,530 Canadians was surveyed online and the results have been weighted by region, age, and gender to reflect the demographic makeup of the national population. In cases where the base sample was used, the results are considered accurate with +/- 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Government funding for religious healthcare institutions in BC:

Providence Health Care


St Joseph's General Hospital


Menno Hospital


St Michael's Centre


Louis Brier Hospital


Mount St Mary Hospital




Data taken from 2015 financial returns.

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