November 25th, 2020

B.C. court dismisses hospice society’s appeal in medically-assisted dying dispute

By The Canadian Press on November 13, 2020.

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. The B.C. Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal from a hospice society in Delta, B.C. over a dispute regarding membership and support for medically-assisted dying. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER – A hospice society in Delta, B.C., has lost another court attempt to reject membership based on their apparent views around medical assistance in dying.

The B.C. Court of Appeal dismissed an attempt by the Delta Hospice Society board to reject membership applications from those who didn’t agree with the society’s change to say Christian morals prevent the hospice from giving the end-of-life service that is legal in Canada.

The lower court ruled that the board had acted in bad faith to manipulate a vote and ordered the society to accept memberships from those who were turned away.

The board went back to court, but the Appeal Court panel of three judges unanimously upheld the lower court’s decision that the society had acted contrary to its own bylaws.

Writing for the panel, Justice Mary Newbury says charter values of freedom of association and freedom of conscience do not support a right of the board to control the society’s membership lists.

B.C.’s Health Ministry previously announced it was withdrawing $1.5 million in annual funding, covering about 94 per cent of the cost to run the facility, because the society wouldn’t comply with provincial policies on medical assistance in dying.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 13, 2020.

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