Dr. Ellen Wiebe is an assisted-dying physician.

Mark Yuen/PNG / PNG

In my position as a volunteer impartial witness of MAiD utility requests, working for Dying with Dignity Canada, I encounter many social staff and nurses employed by Windfall, nearly all of whom have been supportive of MAiD.

Invoice C-14 obtained Royal Assent and got here into pressure on June 17, 2016. In consequence, a person who’s struggling intolerably and whose demise in all fairness foreseeable has a constitutional proper to medical help in dying (MAiD) if sure different standards are met. Whereas the laws is federal, the implementation falls below provincial jurisdiction as a well being care service challenge.


Conditions recognized over the previous two years spotlight the restrictions of present B.C. insurance policies and procedures, which unfairly restrict entry to MAiD for some people. This downside is very acute for residents of faith-based well being care amenities the place the availability of MAiD shouldn’t be allowed.

Affected person switch practices and insurance policies exacerbate the scenario. Particularly, if a frail particular person nearing the top of their life resides at residence and has an emergency requiring hospitalization, paramedics are directed to take the affected person to the “closest, most applicable hospital.” The affected person has no say.

This implies, for instance, that most individuals in Vancouver’s West Finish will find yourself at St. Paul’s, a hospital run by Catholic-based Windfall Well being, which doesn’t permit MAiD to be carried out in any of its amenities. Anybody desirous to entry MAiD as soon as at St. Paul’s should be transferred to Vancouver Basic Hospital or one other keen facility. Sufferers can lose capability to consent to MAiD or die in a fashion not of their selecting whereas ready for a switch. Additionally, the switch itself may be bodily brutal for the affected person and emotionally draining to that particular person and their family members, as evidenced by tales which have emerged within the media.

Equally, sufferers awaiting a publicly sponsored residential-care mattress don’t essentially get to decide on the ability the place they’ll in the end be admitted. Vancouver Coastal Well being coverage, which governs each VCH-run and Windfall-run amenities, states that for sufferers looking for sponsored residential care, the affected person should “settle for the primary applicable mattress that turns into out there in a VCH residential care facility.”

There isn’t any distinction made between VCH-run and Windfall-run amenities. Whereas the affected person could specify a most popular facility, there are not any ensures. If the primary mattress provided shouldn’t be accepted, the affected person is not thought of eligible for sponsored residential care, whether or not being transferred from residence or the hospital.

The tip end result? Somebody who has determined they could wish to pursue MAiD could discover themselves residing in a facility that gained’t permit it, once more leading to a compelled switch in the event that they select this path. 

There’s a easy resolution to those points: finish the follow of compelled transfers by insisting that every one taxpayer-funded amenities, together with Windfall amenities, present MAiD on web site.

The present exemption afforded to faith-based amenities has inadequate authorized foundation when one considers the impression on British Columbians’ rights. Whereas the federal government has allowed clinicians who oppose MAiD to decide out of immediately taking part in it, this proper shouldn’t be afforded to amenities.  A person has a conscience. Bricks and mortar don’t.

In my position as a volunteer impartial witness of MAiD utility requests, working for Dying with Dignity Canada, I encounter many social staff and nurses employed by Windfall, nearly all of whom have been supportive of MAiD. These employees members haven’t any “conscientious objection” to MAiD. Fairly, it’s the board’s coverage that stops them from taking part in MAiD.   

Publicly funded amenities shouldn’t be allowed to hinder affected person entry to a constitutionally protected human proper. The B.C. authorities ought to take fast steps to make sure that the availability of MAiD is allowed in any respect publicly funded well being care amenities that look after dying folks. Failing that, sufferers ought to be given extra selection in order that they don’t find yourself in a MAiD-exempt publicly funded facility in opposition to their will. 

Alex Muir is with the Vancouver chapter of Dying with Dignity Canada.

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