Ontario and Manitoba: A Tale of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide in Two Provinces

News Release

Catholic Civil Rights League

Toronto, ON May 23, 2017 – How can governments in two provinces come to such opposite conclusions?

As assisted suicide spreads its nefarious presence across the country, provincial governments in two provinces have moved in opposite directions when it comes to recognition of the Charter right of freedom of conscience and religion of healthcare professionals in dealing with the practice.

In Ontario, on May 9, two days prior to the March for Life in Ottawa, Bill 84 passed at third reading 61-26. The new law received royal assent on May 10, and the self-reporting regime of assisted suicide has now been enacted, without any additional provision for clarification of conscience rights of doctors or healthcare workers. In thousands of letters and petitions, and despite the significant majority of in person submissions to the legislative committee studying the bill, the enshrinement of clear conscientious protections was denied.

Last week, a private members bill from Ontario MPP Jeff Yurek, to stipulate such conscience recognition, likewise faced defeat at the hands of the ruling provincial Liberal government.

This same government will send its lawyers next month to oppose a court challenge of the rulings of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), which enacted a requirement that objecting physicians provide an effective referral to patients seeking death, or other morally repugnant treatment demands.

In Manitoba, Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen introduced Bill 34 on May 16, legislation to provide for assisted suicide in that province, with specific provisions to protect doctors and healthcare professionals from having to participate, or refer, or face disciplinary proceedings for exercising their rights to conscience. “The legislation will protect the rights of those who do not wish to participate in a medically assisted death for conscience, faith or other reasons,” he told the legislative assembly.

The proposed Manitoba bill allows for an individual to be protected from disciplinary or employment repercussions for refusing to participate in assisted suicide requests, in full recognition of the importance of the personal convictions of the healthcare provider. Bill 34 further prohibits a provincial regulatory body from requiring healthcare professionals from participating in assisted suicide.

The Ontario law also suppresses data collection regarding medically assisted suicides, a position opposed by the Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, and the CCRL, in the legislative committee hearings.

Several doctors who presented their positions at the Ontario legislative committee made absolutely clear their opposition to the imposition that assisted suicide would have on their practices, in particular those involved in palliative care. The experience of other jurisdictions has shown that demands for pain management, or palliative care resources, decrease when assisted suicide becomes an available course of action.

We now observe that when it comes to conscience rights, Ontario stands alone in greasing the wheels of assisted suicide requests.

About the CCRL

Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. The CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization with a large nationwide membership base. The CCRL is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.

For further information:

Christian Domenic Elia, PhD CCRL Executive Director

Manitoba bill aims to protect staff unwilling to offer assisted death

Doctors or nurses who refuse to help patient die protected from repercussions under new legislation

CBC News

Medical professionals in Manitoba who refuse to help terminally ill patients die will be protected from reprisals under new legislation introduced Tuesday.

Manitoba’s Progressive Conservatives said Bill 34, The Medical Assistance in Dying (Protection for Health Professionals and Others) Act, will ensure staff cannot be compelled to go against their own religious or ethical beliefs.

“The legislation will protect the rights of those who do not wish to participate in medically assisted death for conscience, faith or other reasons,” Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen said.

The move follows announcements last year from two Winnipeg faith-based hospitals, Concordia Hospital (Anabaptist-Mennonite) and St. Boniface Hospital (Catholic), which said they will not provide the service to patients. . . [Full text]


Yurek introduces private member’s bill

St. Thomas-Elgin Weekly News

Mike Maloney

Unable to get an amendment to the government’s Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) legislation passed during committee meetings on the subject, Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek has decided to go it alone and put the issue before the Ontario Legislature.

On May 3, Yurek, who is also the Ontario PC party’s health critic, introduced a private member’s bill that if passed, would amend the government’s MAID legislation to protect the conscience rights of healthcare providers. It would make their participation voluntary, allowing healthcare professionals to refuse directly or indirectly to participate in MAID if it violates their conscience or religious beliefs . . . [Full text]


MPP Yurek introduces private member’s bill to protect conscience rights

News Release

For immediate release

Jeff Yurek

QUEEN’S PARK – This morning Ontario PC Health Critic MPP Jeff Yurek (Elgin-Middlesex-London), introduced his private member’s bill that would amend the government’s medical assistance in dying (MAID) legislation to protect the conscience rights of health care providers.

Yurek’s bill, An Act to amend the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 with respect to medical assistance in dying, will make participation in MAID voluntary. The amendments will allow health care professionals to refuse to directly or indirectly participate in MAID if it violates their conscience or religious beliefs, without facing discipline from their regulatory college.

“There are ways for the government to ensure access to MAID while not infringing on freedom of conscience,” stated Yurek. “Provinces such as Alberta have proposed a self-referral system that respects patient wishes while not infringing on freedom of conscience. These are basic rights we have in Canada that the Liberals are ignoring. Not only did they Liberals omit protection of conscience rights in their legislation, they voted against Ontario PC amendments that would have addressed this important issue.”

“Only the PCs have continued to stand beside our doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals.  They should under no circumstances should be forced to participate in medical assistance in dying. It is my hope that the Liberal members will support my Bill to protect the rights of health care professionals across our province.” concluded MPP Jeff Yurek

The bill will be debated on May 18, 2017.

CONTACT: Whitney McWilliam
P: 226-448-6741
E: whitney.mcwilliam@pc.ola.org