Religious care homes refusing patients the right to die
Published Tuesday, May 31, 2016 5:24PM PDT
The right to die isn't guaranteed in Canada yet, but the issue is already causing arguments in B.C.
The federal government's controversial bill on assisted dying was passed in the House of Commons on Tuesday, and will now face the criticism of the Canadian Senate.
Bill C-14 outlines eligibility for assisted dying, limiting the option to consenting adults suffering from serious and incurable diseases and disabilities.
The bill followed a Supreme Court ruling last year that adults should have the right to seek medical help to end their lives if their suffering is intolerable. Under the Supreme Court ruling, a federal ban on assisted dying will be formally lifted on June 6.
Less than a week before the ban is lifted, the right to die is already causing conflicts in B.C.
The owners of some religion-based care homes have already decided they will not permit residents to decide when to end their lives, if it goes against their religion.
"We have our conscience that states that we believe that from birth to death, there is sanctity in life," Baptist Housing CEO Howard Johnson told CTV News.
Johnson said residents who insist on physician-assisted death will be helped to transfer to another home. It's a system Health Minister Terry Lake is willing to work with.
"We have to ensure patients are cared for while respecting the rights of the providers in this situation," Lake said.
But the B.C. Civil Liberties Association disagrees, calling the decision "unconstitutional."
Some residents of religious-based care homes agree, and feel that they should not have to leave their home to follow their hearts.
"Why would a person want to be alive when they're not alive?" Elsie Houston said.
Her daughter, Joan Wood, said people who are terminally ill should be able to make the decision without being "sent off" somewhere else.
"They're sort of saying that this is our religion and you're living under our roof, so you have to abide by how we feel about it," she said.
With reports from CTV Vancouver's Kent Molgat and The Canadian Press