Don't force facilities to host assisted death: Letter to Alberta minister of health

21 January 2019
January 21, 2019
The Honourable Sarah Hoffman
Minister of Health
423 Legislature Building
10800 – 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB. IT5K 2B6
Dear Minister Hoffman,
Alberta’s care coordination system is exemplary in its protection of conscience for medical professionals.
Freedom of conscience is the first fundamental freedom guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Belief in the sanctity of life is deeply-held for many Canadians, including many Albertans. We believe that life is a gift from God, to be respected and protected in all its stages until its natural end.
Faith-based hospitals, hospices and long-term care facilities are grounded in a presumption for life, offering compassionate support and care that does not intentionally end the lives of their patients. The care they offer patients is an expression of the deeply held beliefs of the communities that provide the care.
The Supreme Court of Canada strongly affirmed the communal nature of religious practice in their 2015 decision in the Loyola case. The majority decision stated:

“Religious freedom under the Charter must therefore account for the socially embedded nature of religious belief, and the deep linkages between this belief and its manifestation through communal institutions and traditions.” 

These facilities are communities of people, founded with a particular purpose and ethos. To require or compel faith-based groups to allow medical assistance in dying on their premises would violate fundamental conscience and religious beliefs.
We ask you to continue to recognize the beliefs and distinctives that are the foundation of faith-based facilities and not force these institutions to allow euthanasia or assisted suicide on their premises.
Julia Beazley
Director, Public Policy