British Columbia hospice to be evicted over euthanasia opposition 

Elderly patient in hospice Credit Photographeeeu  Shutterstock Photographee.eu / Shutterstock.

A hospice in Delta, British Columbia is laying off all staff next month as they will be evicted from their building due to their opposition to euthanasia.

The Delta Hospice is a 10-bed hospice. It is operated by the Delta Hospice Society, an organization which was founded in 1991. The hospice is located a one-minute drive away from a hospital which provides euthanasia.

Last year, the Delta Hospice Society was informed that they would be losing $1.5 million in funding from the Fraser Health Authority, a public health care authority in British Columbia, as well as its permission to operate as a hospice, in February 2021. This was due to their refusal to offer “assisted dying,” the Canadian legal term for euthanasia.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide were legalized federally in Canada in June 2016. Religious hospitals are not forced to provide euthanasia, but no such conscience rights exist for secular institutions like the Delta Hospice Society.

Angelina Ireland, president of the Delta Hospice, told CNA on Thursday that she thinks her organization has “clearly been targeted to make an example of how you will not defy a government directive.”

“If the government tells you to do something, you’d better do it,” she told CNA. “And then if you don’t do it, then they’ll basically just shut you down and destroy the society that you’ve built for the last 30 years.”

“We were only 10 beds. We are hardly high profile. We hardly matter,” said Ireland. “We have always been committed to palliative care.”

The Delta Hospice Society lost a court case when they attempted to block the membership of euthanasia activists in the organization. They are appealing and hoping the Canadian Supreme Court will take up their case.

The hospice's case regarded its efforts to hold a meeting and vote on proposed changes to its constitution and bylaws that would define its Christian identity and exclude the provision of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled in June that the hospice had acted wrongly in its attempts to define its Christian identity and to exclude euthanasia, because it had not been indiscriminately approving new applications for membership during 2020.

The hospice's actions were challenged by three of its members, Sharon Farrish, Christopher Pettypiece, and James Levin, who are in favor of euthanasia.

And while Delta Hospice is about to lose its physical building, Ireland said that her group’s work in promoting a peaceful natural death will continue.

“We've been in society for 30 years and for the last 10 of those, we had a facility,” she told CNA. “So what we will do is we will go back to our roots, and we will continue to do what we did for 20 years. We went directly to the community, directly to people's homes.”

“Without the building, we don’t stop being a society and we don’t stop advocating and doing the kind of work we’ve always done,” said Ireland.
Ironically, Ireland mused it may be “safer” to do exclusively home visits.

“If people are entering facilities that offer euthanasia, and they can’t get away from it, it may be a safer place, a safe space for them to have support and help in their own home,” she said.

“So we will continue to do that. That has been the purpose of our society from the beginning,” said Ireland, “And we will just soldier on and go back to our roots.”
 

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