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Half of British Columbians strongly oppose granting "conscientious objections" to healthcare institutions

A new poll has found that 71% of British Columbians do not support publicly-funded healthcare institutions being able to refuse to provide services like physician-assisted dying or abortion on religious grounds. A majority – 52% – are strongly opposed.

A number of healthcare institutions operated by religious groups, including Providence Healthcare in Vancouver and St Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox, have said that they would not provide medical assistance in dying, which became legal in Canada on June 6.

The poll was commissioned by the BC Humanist Association and conducted by Insights West. The BC Humanists have said that religious opposition by healthcare institutions threatens access to medical assistance in dying. The group has calculated that nearly $1 billion in public funding went to healthcare institutions operated by religious organizations in BC in 2015.

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Medical assistance in dying becomes legal in Canada

As of today, suffering Canadians may request assistance to end their life with dignity.

Last year, in its unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down our country's prohibition on physician-assisted dying and spelled out clear and compassionate guidelines for when an individual may request an assisted death.

The Court delayed its ruling to give Parliament time to enact a new law meeting those guidelines. Parliament's answer is Bill C-14, which is only now being considered by the Senate. That Bill is considered by many experts to be unconstitutional.

This means that the Court's ruling stands as law and any individual that meets the criteria provided by the Court has choice in death.

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Fifty-four secular groups call for repeal of Greek blasphemy law

Update (June 14, 2016): The Greek Government has responded. See a translation of their letter at the bottom of this post.

The BC Humanist Association has joined an international letter from secular, atheist and Humanist organizations calling on the Greek government to repeal its country's blasphemy law.

Read the letter.

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Our arguments in TWU vs LSBC

From Wednesday until Friday, the BC Court of Appeal will hear arguments in the case of Trinity Western University vs the Law Society of British Columbia. The BC Humanist Association was granted leave to intervene in the appeal with the Canadian Secular Alliance.

The private evangelical university is attempting to establish a law school and requires all students sign a Community Covenant that excludes gay students.

In their factum to the court, the BCHA and CSA argue that studying law is not a religious act protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that requiring all students - including non-Christians - to obey an evangelical Christian ethos is religious compulsion.

Read the factum submitted by the BCHA and CSA.

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Speaking up for Dissent in Canada

As part of its commitment to freedom of expression and the importance of dissent, the BC Humanist Association has signed onto the new Voices-Voix Declaration.

The 2016 Declaration succeeds the previous declaration which decried the muzzling of government scientists, political audits of charities and general advocacy chill. With the election of a new government, the new Declaration calls for an overhaul of laws and regulations to foster a strong and independent civil society.

These changes are vital to ensuring that the BC Humanist Association and other freethought groups are able to continue to challenge religious privilege and push for greater equality for all.

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BC Humanists raise funds for Fort McMurray

By now most of us have seen the harrowing images pouring out of Northern Alberta over the past week. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from Fort McMurray an neighbouring communities as a massive wildfire engulfed the region.

To provide an opportunity to respond, the BC Humanist Association has launched a fundraiser to support the Canadian Red Cross' relief efforts.

All money donated will go directly to the Red Cross and will help provide emergency food, clothing, shelter, personal services and other necessities.

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Amend Bill C-14: Restore the patient-centred approach

The BC Humanist Association today submitted its brief to the parliamentary committee tasked with reviewing and proposing amendments to the government's draft medical assistance in dying bill. The brief contains a list of amendments to the bill that would restore the "patient-centred approach" promoted by the Special Joint Committee's report.

The bill has been widely criticized for failing to meet the criteria established by the Supreme Court ruling that struck down Canada's ban on physician-assisted dying. The Court has given Parliament until June 6 before its ruling comes into effect.

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Secular voices to intervene against proposed evangelical law school

The BC Humanist Association, along with the Canadian Secular Alliance, have been granted Leave to Intervene at the BC Court of Appeal in a case over a proposed law school at the Christian Evangelical Trinity Western University. Working together with leading lawyer Tim Dickson, the organizations will bring the voice of the secular movement to this case.

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BCHA joins global call to UN High Commissioner for Refugees to respect non-religious worldviews

The BC Humanist Association today joined thirty freethought organizations from around the world to call on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to recognize people with non-religious philosophical convictions.

The letter, organized by Atheist Alliance International, expresses concern that the Commissioner frequently refers to religious persecution, while not recognizing the threat many atheists, humanists and the non-religious.

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Federal government tables assisted dying law

The Federal Government today tabled legislation that would give some Canadians the right to choose an assisted death.

While the bill adopts some of the important provisions that the BC Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, the BC Civil Liberties Association and other advocates of choice in dying have called for, the government took a more narrow approach to the issue.

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