Just over a year ago, on June 17, 2016, Bill C-14, legislation on medical assistance in dying (“MAID”) received royal asset. The legislation, which amended the Criminal Code of Canada and other Acts with respect to MAID came after the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in Carter v. Canada in February, 2015.
On June 12, 2017, the Catholic Health Corporation of Manitoba (“CHCM”), which owns St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg, MB, voted to ban medically assisted death at the faith-based hospital.
The vote came after the previous vote of the hospital’s board of directors on May 29, 2017, which narrowly approved a new policy that would allow medical assistance in dying at the hospital under “rare circumstances.”
The CHCM held a special board meeting a day after the May 29 vote and added 10 new members to the hospital’s board of directors. The organization then asked for a revote, which took place on June 12, 2017.
Since 2000, the CHCM has held the authority to add members to the board and will do so in order to ensure that its values and principles can help guide its organizations, including the hospital. The current board is largely compiled of those without clinical expertise.
The then-board chairman Murray Kilfoyle resigned on June 2, 2017, stating that he could not reconcile his patient centric MAID views with those of the CHCM.
Two other members of the board have also resigned following the revote.
Dr. Marcus Blouw, the outgoing president of the hospital’s medical staff, believes that the policy to deny patients of medical assistance in dying violates the rights of the most vulnerable patients under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Specifically, he disagrees that the Board should be able to overrule the decisions of patients and clinicians and believes that the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority should take control of the hospital away from the CHCM.
For more information on Bill C-14 and the controversy surrounding its implementation at St. Boniface Hospital, please see the following articles from CBC News:
- Catholic Health Corp. stacks St. Boniface Hospital board to stop assisted dying
- St. Boniface ban on medically assisted death a breach of charter rights, doctor says
- 2 more resignations follow St. Boniface Hospital decision on assisted death