Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, among others, is testifying at a Queen's Park's committee hearing on Bill 84 March 23. Photo by Michael Swan

Archbishop Collins testifying at conscience rights hearing

  • March 22, 2017

Conscience rights for Ontario doctors will get the full attention of Queen’s Park on Thursday, March 23, in committee hearings on Bill 84.

Toronto Archbishop Cardinal Thomas Collins, London Bishop Ronald Fabbro and executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada Deacon Larry Worthen are all expected to argue during day-long meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs in favour of amending the legislation to guarantee doctors the right to refuse to participate in MAID (medical assistance in dying) up to and including refusing to refer for the procedure.

The bill which, makes small changes to several provincial laws, is required so Ontario’s provincial laws line up with last year’s federal legislation making doctor-assisted suicide legal. The Supreme Court of Canada forced the federal government’s hand with its 2015 decision in the Canada v. Carter case, which found that criminal laws against assisted suicide violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Bill 84 committee hearings get underway at 9 a.m. and can be watched live on the Ontario Legislature’s website.

Progressive Conservative health critic Jeff Yurek has told The Catholic Register he plans to introduce a conscience-protection amendment to the law at committee. Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins has avoided indicating whether he, as the bill’s sponsor, would welcome an amendment. During second reading debate, Hoskins said, “We have an obligation to put safeguards in place for those health care professionals who choose not to participate.”

The Catholic Register will update the committee hearings live from Queen’s Park at, on Twitter @MmmSwan and @CatholicRegistr, and on Facebook.

Doctors in Ontario are currently compelled to refer for abortion, euthanasia and other morally contentious procedures by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario’s “Professional Obligations and Human Rights” policy. The Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada is challenging the policy in the courts and expects to take the case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

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