Majority of British Columbians Against Religious Hospitals Refusing to Provide Medical Assistance in Dying

The prohibition on medical assistance in dying has ended in Canada, as of June 7th, 2016.

In the face of this development, Providence Health Care, which operates St. Paul's Hospital, Mount Saint Joseph Hospital, and other clinics and facilities in Metro Vancouver, and St. Joseph's General Hospital in Comox, BC appear to be standing by their stance that they will not be providing medical assistance in dying, in accordance with the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada's Health Ethics Guide.

These religious healthcare institutions are publicly-funded, however, and the BC Humanist Association (BCHA) estimates that nearly $1 billion of tax payer money went to religious hospitals in 2015 alone.

Publicly funded hospitals, hospices and long-term care facilities have a responsibility to offer a full range of compassionate care options to British Columbians at end of life. Refusing to do so represents a violation of their duty to serve the public. Forcing dying patients to leave their places of residence, their healthcare teams and, in some cases, their home communities in order to access their right to a peaceful death is unethical, impractical, and offside with the views of the vast majority of British Columbians. -Dr. Sue Hughson, Dying With Dignity Canada Board Member and Vancouver Chapter Coordinator. 

A recent poll conducted by Insights West and commissioned by the BCHA, shows that 71% of British Columbians are opposed to publicly-funded religious hospitals being able to refuse to provide medical assistance in dying and other healthcare services to patients on religious grounds. 

19% were somewhat opposed and 52% were strongly opposed, with an additional 7% who were not sure on their stance. 

Canada joins Colombia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and four US States (Oregon, Washington, Vermont, California) in legalizing medical assistance in dying.

For detailed information on medical assistance in dying in Canada, please visit the Department of Justice's website.


BC Humanist Association. (2016, February 15). BC taxpayers gave $1 billion to religious hospitals in 2015 [Press release]. Retrieved from

BC Humanist Association. (2016, June 8). Half of British Columbians strongly oppose granting conscientious objections to healthcare institutions [Press release]. Retrieved from

Medical Assistance in Dying Questions and Answers. (n.d.). In Department of Justice, Government of Canada. Retrieved from

Health Ethics Guide. (n.d.). In Catholic Health Alliance of Canada. Retrieved from

MacMahon, M. (2016, February 25). Providence Health Care will not offer doctor-assisted dying to patients. NEWS 1130. Retrieved from

McKinley, J. (2016, March 12). Assisted suicide debate finds Vancouver Island battleground. Comox Valley Record. Retrieved from

(image 1 via Pixabay; image 2 via BCHA)