B.C. hospice plan takes on MAiD 'tyranny'

By  Terry O'Neill, Canadian Catholic News
  • December 4, 2022

VANCOUVER -- The Delta Hospice Society has launched an innovative, three-pronged counter-offensive against Canada’s ever-more-permissive assisted-suicide law.

Delta Hospice Society president Angelina Ireland says her organization intends to “combat the tyranny” of government by “going to the people” with an action plan that includes promotion of Do Not Euthanize advance directives, implementation of a “Guardian Angel” program to pair life-affirming volunteers with vulnerable sick and elderly, and development of an assisted-suicide-free palliative-care facility.

“We need a sanctuary for the dying,” Ireland told a Nov. 20 meeting of the Life Compass Society, a Vancouver-area pro-life group. ”We need a safe place with no euthanasia.”

The Delta Hospice Society made national headlines over the past four years during its ultimately unsuccessful attempt to thwart the provincial government’s imposition of assisted suicide in its hospice.

Planning for a new, euthanasia-free palliative-care centre is already underway, as is promotion of the Do Not Euthanize legal directives. Ireland said the Guardian Angel program is being developed and a partner in Ontario has been lined up, but there is no official launch date for the initiative yet.

“We need people who will stand up and participate in a guardian-angel program, speaking for people who are being pressured,” she said in her speech.

She took a verbal jab at B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and the NDP government, saying she believes they “enjoy” endling lives as part of an “eco-driven agenda.”

After the federal government legalized assisted suicide in 2016, Dix and the B.C. government mandated that all non-religious, provincially funded facilities must allow Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), the euphemism for doctor-facilitated suicide, on their premises. Regional authorities implemented the order.

As revealed by The B.C. Catholic in a series of investigative stories, the Fraser Health Authority, under which the Delta hospice operated, ignored expert advice against forcing hospices to allow euthanasia. The imposition led Dr. Neil Hilliard, head of the authority’s palliative-care team, to resign in protest.

The Delta Hospice Society refused to implement the health authority’s order, which led in 2021 to the government seizing control of the Irene Thomas Hospice, which the society built with its own funds, but which is located on provincial land.

“We have had an absolute and total war waged against us,” Ireland told the Life Compass gathering, which took place at St. Clare of Assisi Parish Hall in Coquitlam.

Ireland said government-led opposition to the society fuelled an explosion of “Christophobia,” but that Canada’s “pro-life nation” rallied to the society’s side, with thousands of members joining and allowing it to continue adhering to a faith-based, pro-life mission. 

“We triumphed in the face of absolute evil,” she said.

The no-euthanasia notification is an explicit manifestation of the hospice’s mission. The document is available free to all members of the Delta Hospice Society, whose annual membership fee is $10.  The society’s website says the legal document protects holders against attempts to have their lives terminated through medical intervention.

“We have sent out thousands,” Ireland said. “People are frightened because they think they are going to be killed.”

Ireland said the directive has been vetted by lawyers and has legal terminology appropriate for all provinces and territories.

The problem is acute, she said, because the society has received many reports of patients who are not getting proper care and are being pressured to end their lives.

The B.C. Catholic reported last year that numerous patients have been pestered or pressured to accept MAiD, despite explicit Fraser Health Authority policy stating assisted suicide must be a patient-led process.

Richard Whalen, president of Life Compass, which comprises Catholic pro-life groups in the north-of-Fraser region, believes the Do Not Euthanize directive “should put a damper on the apparent desire of supporters of MAiD to save health-care dollars at the expense of the vulnerable elderly and even the younger handicapped or those suffering from various mental-health issues.”

As well, he said the proposed Guardian Angels program will give people “the opportunity to help hold the misguided medical and political proponents of MAiD accountable.”

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