On March 17, 2017, Amy Wah, HALCO policy lawyer, made a deputation to the Ontario Legislature Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs about Bill 84 An Act to amend various Acts with respect to medical assistance in dying.
The deputation, made on behalf of HALCO and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, focussed primarily on public access to information about the Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) policies of hospitals and other publicly-funded facilities. Given that hospitals are allowed under Bill 41 to refuse to provide MAiD, the proposed amendment to privacy legislation under Bill 84 would mean that individuals might not be able to determine whether they can access MAiD until they are hospitalized.
Ontario has already enacted Bill 41 An Act to amend various Acts in the interests of patient-centred care, 2016 that permits publicly-funded facilities to refuse to provide MAiD. It provides special protection for publicly-funded faith-based hospitals and facilities against Ministerial or Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) operational policies or directives that would require them to provide a service (such as MAiD) “that is contrary to the religion related to the organization.”
While HALCO and the Legal Network take the Charter right to freedom of religion and conscience very seriously, we think that the Bill 41 amendment is wrong. Any religious or conscience rights of a facility or provider must be balanced against the right of patients to access MAiD. However, if facilities are allowed to refuse to provide MAiD, public access to information about the facility’s approach to MAiD requests, including the fact that any request will be denied, is essential to allow individuals to have the information they need to make an informed choice.
You can read the deputation on our website: www.halco.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Medical-Assistance-in-Dying_Ontario-Bill84_HALCO-deputation2017Mar17.pdf.