It violates deeply-held beliefs to be forced to participate in hastened death. The EFC asked for conscience protection for health-care workers and facilities to be added to Ontario Bill 84. The bill has now been passed into law.
March 30, 2017 - The EFC submitted a brief to the Ontario Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs on March 30, 2017. The brief says it violates deeply-held beliefs to be forced to participate in hastened death, and the EFC is asking for conscience protection for health-care workers and facilities to be added to Ontario Bill 84.
Canada has legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide under certain circumstances. Many healthcare workers have deeply-held beliefs that they must not deliberately and intentionally cause a person’s death.
Provinces across Canada are putting in place processes for carrying out euthanasia and assisted suicide, following the passage of Bill C-14 in June 2016. Most provinces are finding ways to protect the conscience of healthcare workers and respect patient decisions.
But Ontario is not putting in place a system that respects or protects conscience. On December 7, the Ontario government introduced Bill 84 to reconcile its laws and procedures with Bill C-14. Bill 84 lacks conscience protection for healthcare workers in regards to euthanasia/assisted suicide.
It does nothing to challenge a policy adopted by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) that doctors must provide effective referrals for procedures that violate their deeply held beliefs, including euthanasia and assisted suicide.
This means Ontario doctors must refer a patient seeking euthanasia or assisted suicide to a physician or nurse practitioner who will end the patient’s life. Providing a referral facilitates the treatment that follows. It is in effect a professional recommendation for a course of treatment.
Under the CPSO policy, doctors who object will face the choice between violating their deeply-held beliefs or being disciplined by their professional body.
Ontario may also require long-term care facilities to allow assisted death on their premises.
We believe no one should be compelled to participate directly or indirectly in the taking of a human life. Doctors and other healthcare workers must not be compelled to participate in ways that violate their deeply-held beliefs.
A court challenge of the CPSO policy has been launched by several doctors’ groups, including EFC-affiliate the Christian Medical and Dental Society. The EFC has applied to intervene alongside the Association of Catholic Bishops of Ontario.
Others are also calling for an amendment to Ontario Bill 84 that would protect conscience.
For centuries most healthcare systems have been animated by core beliefs in keeping with – and often arising directly from – Christian faith. We are on the verge of forcing out many who are deeply committed to the sanctity of human life.
We need to take a stand for the freedom of medical professionals to heal and not kill, and for the ability of health care institutions, including faith-based ones, to honour that same mission and purpose.