A presence in the pandemic: The EFC responds

25 May 2020

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The EFC has spent recent weeks responding in various ways to the COVID-19 crisis, on behalf of and in partnership with other Canadian Christian organizations, faith partners and church communities.

Most recently, the EFC wrote a brief to the parliamentary Finance Committee and recommended the federal government provide a matching grant for donations to charities during the pandemic, in addition to the wage subsidy already provided.

The EFC worked with partners such as the Canadian Council of Christian Charities and the Canadian Council of Churches on ways the government could initially assist the charitable sector and advocated for increased wage subsidies and higher tax credits, along with clarity around facility use.

Our curated collection of resources for churches at has included submissions from churches and individuals, ranging from articles and event notifications to stories of what was working well for them during the pandemic lockdown.

One big event early in the pandemic was a global day of prayer and fasting. The EFC joined with our brothers and sisters across the World Evangelical Alliance for this event. Our resource page continues to highlight other prayer initiatives.

Our magazines and podcasts also responded. The EFC Podcast interviewed Canadian Christians about their COVID-19 response, providing a steady stream of stories.

Meanwhile, the regular EFC work of public engagement on crucial issues in our parliamentary and judicial systems continues.

The EFC is asking the House of Commons Health Committee to support palliative care providers and institutions by recommending strong, clear conscience protection. We’re also asking the committee to keep the distinction between euthanasia and life-affirming palliative care.

Many Canadian physicians, including palliative care doctors, are feeling intense pressure to participate in euthanasia against their deeply held beliefs. A news release by Physicians Alliance Against Euthanasia earlier this year reports physicians increasingly feel pressured and bullied to participate in medical assistance in dying.

“Compelling doctors and hospices to participate in euthanasia creates a poisoned environment which reduces the quality of care available,” says Julia Beazley. “It is essential to ensure that no one is forced to participate in euthanasia.”

There are health care providers within many fields, such as doctors, nurses, PSWs, pharmacists and administrators, who have deeply held beliefs that prevent them from participating in ending the lives of others. Objections to euthanasia may be rooted in religious belief or philosophy of care or they may relate to a particular patient and their circumstances.

Facilities, including hospices, are also under pressure to fundamentally change their philosophy of care by providing euthanasia within their institutions. One high-profile example is the Irene Thomas Hospice, which is operated by the Delta Hospice Society. The Fraser Health Authority in B.C. will close down the hospice in 2021 if it does not begin to offer euthanasia on its premises.

The EFC is also urging the committee to recognize that palliative care is distinct from medical assistance in dying in its approach, definition and philosophy. The goal of palliative care is to relieve suffering and improve the quality of life. It helps a person to live fully until natural death. Medical assistance in dying responds to suffering by intentionally ending a person’s life.

How you can help

  • Please continue to share how your church is responding to COVID-19, so we can all learn from each other. Email us
  • MPs are still working on issues of concern. Please contact your representatives and ask them to support palliative care providers and institutions by recommending strong, clear conscience protection, and keep the distinction between euthanasia and life-affirming palliative care.
Also in this issue: Religious leaders’ joint response on the pandemic; Small church study offers COVID-19 insights; Updating you on Canada’s most immediate issues; Message from the president; New work on family faith formation; Faith Today now free in Canada; Hearts and hands – Insights from the work of the EFC’s Joel Gordon; and more.