Province won't force faith-based institutions to allow medically assisted deaths
The Manitoba government has responded to a controversy over the reversal of a decision by the St. Boniface Hospital's board of directors on medically assisted dying.
As a faith-based institution, St. Boniface doesn't provide medical assistance in dying.
The board voted on May 29 to amend the hospital's policy to allow MAID to happen on site under "rare circumstances". However, the Catholic Health Corporation of Manitoba then ordered a review of the decision after adding 10 new directors to the board.
The amendment was overturned during the review on June 12, meaning the hospital will provide assessments for patients seeking medically-assisted deaths but will transfer patients to a different facility if they meet the requirements to go through with the procedure.
The Manitoba government said it will not force faith-based institutions to provide medical assistance in dying.
In a statement, Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen said Monday the government respects the decisions of medical professionals and health care facilities to not provide medical assistance in dying.
"Those facilities that do not perform MAID are required to have protocols and procedures in place to transfer patients, in a manner that is safe and dignified, to an alternate facility," the statement said. "It’s important to note that not all services are available in all hospitals in Manitoba. For example, some facilities do not do surgeries or provide certain tests. However, as a result of the Supreme Court of Canada decision, every jurisdiction in Canada is required to make accommodations to make sure the public has access to MAID."
"While the province has committed to facilities and medical professionals that it will not impose the practice of MAID upon them, the Provincial MAID Clinical Team provides access to these services to any person who meets the requirements. This ensures people from across the province can access the service, while respecting our commitment to the values of individual medical professionals and healthcare facilities."
The former chairperson of the board at St. Boniface Hospital left his position over the CHCM's request for a revote on the issue.
"I see no way to reconcile my patient centric MAID views with those of CHCM (the Catholic Health Corporation of Manitoba)," former board chair Murray Kilfoyle wrote in his resignation letter. “I will be unable to support a policy I believe allows for the undeniable reality of transfers of care that harm patients.”
The founding director of the University of Manitoba's Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics said it's not just hospitals that have concerns.
Schafer said there's also a worry that faith-based personal care homes won't allow medically-assisted deaths.
According to the Interfaith Health Care Association of Manitoba's website, the Manitoba government entered into a 1994 Memorandum of Understanding which allows faith-based organizations to own and govern institutions like hospitals and personal care homes and to establish medical ethics for the facilities.
Schafer said the institutions should allow MAID because they're publicly-funded.