Vancouver area hospice is asking the government to reconsider their proposal to give up $750,000 a year in funding so that it not be required to violate its mandate of care and compassion for patients by providing Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) at its facility.
The health authority’s demand is unnecessary, the hospice contends, noting that the MAiD option is widely available at many other facilities, including one next door. By forfeiting the government funding, the hospice would be under the 50% threshold set by the government and therefore exempt from providing MAiD.
Angelina Ireland, President of the Delta Hospice Society, said that the Society’s Charter specifically mandates it to provide compassionate care and support for persons in the last stages of living, so that they may live as fully and comfortably as possible.
“Helping and supporting patients to live fully and comfortably in their last days and giving support to them and their families is what our patients and families come to us for and expect and it is certainly what our staff are dedicated to providing. Taking steps to end a patient’s life is not providing care and support so that ‘they may live fully.’”
Fraser Health Authority ordered the Delta Hospice Society late last year to provide Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) claiming that failure to do so would be a breach of the Society’s agreement with the authority.
Ireland said in order to comply with the Authority’s instruction it would have to violate its legal commitments under the province’s Societies’ Act which requires them to follow their Charter. Further, DHS is not in breach of the Agreement. There is nothing in the Agreement which requires DHS to provide MAiD or allow it to be provided on its premises. The FHA is attempting to amend the Agreement by making a unilateral decision to impose an obligation, which in itself would be a contravention of the Agreement. The Fraser Health Authority’s new directive puts the Hospice Society in a difficult position of either honouring their Charter and legal obligations or acceding to what she called “an agenda-driven demand which ignores ourprimary function and pays no heed to the needs or wants of those patients and families we are caring for.”
The Delta Hospice Society has tried to work with the health authority, explaining the dilemma the order places upon them, outlining their function to assist patients live fully in their final days before natural death, and offering options to help settle the dispute but the Fraser Health Authority has refused to budge.
On January 15, 2020, Delta Hospice Society wrote the Fraser Health Authority to ask that they reconsider the proposal to give up the $750,000 a year in funding so that they may benefit from the exemption set out in a Ministry of Health policy.
Ireland said that giving up the funding would cause the Society to focus exclusively on their Hospice operations. The other services the Society provides to the community would be put on the back burner until alternative funding partnerships can be established. The Society is committed to continuing to provide the quality care it has provided since its founding in 1991, and protecting the Society’s mandate and organizational integrity. Ireland noted further that there are many locations where MAiD is already available to those wishing to avail themselves of that option, including a facility next door.
“Nobody wanting such a service would be prevented access. The issue is not accessibility. It seems to be a purely agenda-driven demand that runs rough shod over both Delta Hospice Society’s desire to live up to its legal requirements under our Charter, as well as ignoring the reality that we are dealing with patients and families in a very vulnerable and delicate position.”
“Our goal,” she added, “is to fulfill our mission. And that is to help patients and their loved ones live quietly, comfortably, and as fully as possible in their final days of life.” She reiterated the hospice’s desire to negotiate an equitable arrangement with the Fraser Health Authority to maintain Delta Hospice’s role of serving its patients well.
Contact: Angelina Ireland 778-512-8088; firstname.lastname@example.org