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Renewed discussion over assisted dying amid dispute at faith-based sites
VANCOUVER - Two incidents in British Columbia have renewed a debate about whether faith-based health institutions that receive public funding should be allowed to opt out of offering medical assistance in dying.
Documents obtained through freedom-of-information by the advocacy group Dying with Dignity Canada show that Providence Health Care, a Catholic health care provider, apologized to Vancouver General Hospital for a mismanaged transfer of a patient seeking assisted death.
Emails written by Providence staff say the man was at risk of losing his capacity to consent if he was not transferred quickly from St. Paul's Hospital, but when he arrived at Vancouver General Hospital it took an hour and a half to find him an appropriate bed.
In a separate case, Louis Brier Home and Hospital, a Jewish care home, has filed a complaint with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. against Dr. Ellen Wiebe for helping one of its residents die, in contravention of its policy.
Wiebe says she provided the patient with the service after concluding he met the criteria required by the law, and she did her best to honour his wishes and those of his family.
Robert Breen of the Denominational Health Association of B.C. says all of the 44 faith-based facilities his organization represents are doing everything they can to respect the rights of people who request assisted death.