B.C. court to hear Delta hospice appeal

By  Agnieszka Ruck, Canadian Catholic News
  • August 27, 2020

VANCOUVER -- The B.C. Court of Appeal has agreed to hear the case of the Delta Hospice Society, which is trying to keep assisted suicide out of its Irene Thomas Hospice.

A lower court had ruled in June that the society did not act in good faith when it launched a mail-in vote proposing changes to its constitution, or when it accepted some membership applications and denied others.

But the society, which runs a small 10-bed hospice in Delta, appealed, saying the society has been “mistakenly” treated as a public institution, not a private one.

Board president Angelina Ireland said private associations in Canada are free to choose members who support their values.

“We feel like the court heard us,” she said.

Ireland believes a large influx of membership applications, 310 of which were denied, were part of a co-ordinated “hostile takeover” by members of the public who would like to see assisted suicide offered at the hospice. The hospice does not currently allow assisted suicide on site; patients who request it are referred to other facilities.

Faith-based organizations are exempt from a Fraser Health Authority mandate to offer the procedure in palliative care settings.

The society’s proposed vote and constitutional changes were designed to formally recognize the society as one that operated on Christian principles and supported life until “natural death,” values it has implicitly held since it was founded in 1991, said Ireland.

The ruling that the society must accept all denied memberships “gave carte blanche to organized groups to perform hostile takeovers of private societies,” Ireland said.

No date has been set for the hearing.

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