MP An­der­son tables bill to pro­tect con­science rights of health care pro­fes­sion­als

The Southwest Booster - - NEWS - SUB­MIT­TED

Tues­day in the House of Com­mons, David An­der­son, MP for Cy­press Hills– Grass­lands tabled Bill C-418, the Pro­tec­tion of Free­dom of Con­science Act, to pro­tect con­science rights for health care pro­fes­sion­als.

The pur­pose of The Pro­tec­tion of Free­dom of Con­science Act is to pro­tect the rights of health care pro­fes­sion­als to con­sci­en­tiously ob­ject to par­tic­i­pa­tion in med­i­cal as­sis­tance in dying (MAID), mak­ing it an of­fence to in­tim­i­date or try to force a health care pro­fes­sional to be in­volved in MAID. It also makes it an of­fence to fire or refuse to em­ploy a health care pro­fes­sional for re­fus­ing to take part, di­rectly or indi­rectly, in the pro­vi­sion of MAID.

MAID be­came le­gal across Canada in 2016. This bill ad­dresses a leg­isla­tive gap in pro­tect­ing the right to refuse par­tic­i­pa­tion in MAID, which is al­ready guar­an­teed in the Crim­i­nal Code, but which lacks clar­ity for ef­fec­tive en­force­ment.

An­der­son views the pro­tec­tion of con­science rights for med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als as part of pro­tect­ing the fun­da­men­tal free­dom of con­science and re­li­gion guar­an­teed to all Cana­di­ans in the Char­ter of Rights and Free­doms. “I be­lieve it’s time to stand up for doc­tors and health care providers who aren’t will­ing to leave their core ethics be­hind when they’re at a pa­tient’s bed­side. Ac­cess to MAID and the right to con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tion aren’t mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive,” An­der­son said.

A re­cent court case in On­tario high­lights the un­due ten­sion placed on health care providers in some ju­ris­dic­tions to pro­vide ef­fec­tive re­fer­rals for MAID. Doc­tors who ob­ject to in­volve­ment in MAID, in­clud­ing mem­bers of re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties and doc­tors who be­lieve their fun­da­men­tal role is to heal, not take life, ar­gue that pro­vid­ing re­fer­rals is tan­ta­mount to di­rect in­volve­ment in MAID. The Pro­tec­tion of Free­dom of Con­science Act will pro­vide sup­port for health care providers who ob­ject to pro­vid­ing MAID based on con­science or re­li­gion and who are at risk of fac­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion, co­er­cion, or be­ing fired for re­fus­ing to par­tic­i­pate.

An­der­son draws com­par­isons be­tween his work on in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights and the his­tory of rights in Canada. “Canada is a na­tion built on the free­dom to have dis­sent­ing be­liefs and fol­low one’s con­science, and we must stand up for th­ese rights wher­ever we see them be­ing as­saulted. The right of doc­tors to refuse to take the life of a pa­tient is one of th­ese,” he con­cluded.

To read the First Read­ing pub­li­ca­tion of C-418, visit Doc­u­mentviewer/en/42-1/bill/c-418/ first-read­ing.

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