Last Tuesday, I was lucky to be a member of an ecumenical and interfaith delegation that went to the provincial legislature to present a joint statement calling for more palliative care in our province and conscience rights for health care workers and institutions in light of Canada's new laws on assisted suicide. The delegation included Roman and Ukrainian Catholic, Anglican, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Evangelical, and Muslim delegates and represented a much larger group of signatories to the joint statement that included Jewish, Muslim, and a great many Christian communities.
We met with Health Minister Dustin Duncan, the NDP caucus under opposition leader Trent Wotherspoon, and Premier Brad Wall. It was a very encouraging meeting and we are hopeful that both the government and the opposition are willing to try to find workable solutions both on increasing access to palliative care in our province and on ensuring health care workers and institutions will not be forced to choose between their work and their consciences.
During a media scrum following the meetings, a few questions relating to conscience rights came up that I wanted to respond to. In particular, there were questions about referrals and about public funding for religious health care institutions.
I rushed back to my office and called Andy Cooper at the Leader Post to see if they would be interested in an editorial from me on these issues. He was happy to see what I came up with. I sent it off Tuesday evening, on Wednesday morning I had a message on my phone saying it would run on Thursday, and on Thursday this came out:
Note: I did not choose the title. If I had, I would not have used the phrase "medically assisted dying" which I consider to be misleading. It has always been legal to die with medical assistance in this country. This euphemism for suicide is an insult to those who work in palliative care and have made medical assistance to the dying their life's call, but have never once killed their patients.