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Urgent Action on Conscience Rights - Ontario Bill 84

Call to Action

The EFC is partnering with the Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience in its Call for Conscience campaign in Ontario.

This campaign runs from Feb. 6 to March 31, 2017 and encourages Ontario residents to contact their MPP to ask for strong conscience protection in current legislation.

For more information and resources to help you raise awareness in your church or plan a meeting with your MPP, see www.canadiansforconscience.ca.
 

Overview

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.

Highlights