Hospice closes after refusing assisted dying

A hospice in Canada is being forced to close after refusing to offer and perform medically assisted suicides.

Lat week the Irene Thomas Hospice in Delta, British Columbia, lost $1.5 million in funding and its license to operate as a hospice.

Fraser Health Authority, one of the six public health care authorities in the province, said it would end its relationship with the hospice because the hospice refused to provide medically assisted death.

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix said the decision to pull funding was taken “reluctantly”.

He added: “when the role of the Delta Hospice Society concludes, patients in publicly funded hospice care will again be able to fully access their medical rights.”

Although the Delta Hospice is not affiliated with a religion, its board is opposed to medically assisted death on moral and philosophical grounds.

“Delta Hospice officials were shocked and outraged this week by the Fraser Health Authority’s blatant move to cut off all discussions and close the facility because it wants the hospice to provide MAiD (Medical Assistance in Dying) at every facility,” a statement from the board says.

The hospice aims to provide patients with a peaceful natural death, not actively end patients’ lives, Hospice president Angelina Ireland says.

“The Irene Thomas Hospice is dedicated to allowing patients access to expert symptom management for physical, emotional and spiritual distress. It provides comfort, meaning dignity and hope as one dies a natural death.”

In September 2016, Fraser Health introduced a new policy requiring all hospices receiving more than 50 percent of provincial funding to offer MAiD to their residents.

The Irene Thomas Hospice falls into this category.

Ireland says Fraser Health ignored her request to lower the amount of funding to below the 50 percent threshold and forbade the hospice from finding another partner to work with.

“By refusing to allow us to find another partner, [Fraser Health is] basically forcing us to be in default of our lease – because in order to have our lease, we have to be a hospice,” Ireland said.

“They feel that they can just come in and seize our assets.”

Ireland said although the facilities are on land that is leased from the government, the buildings were constructed using donations from the Delta community.

“We built this facility,” she said. “We built that 10 years ago, and we put $9 million into that of privately-raised money from donations.”

“This didn’t come from the taxpayer. This came from private people.”

The public health authority intends to take over the Irene Thomas Hospital buildings and bring in medically assisted dying.

Assisted dying is already readily available at Delta Hospital, which is a one-minute drive from the Irene Thomas Hospice.


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