Paul Tuns

In February 2021, the British Columbia Ministry of Health defunded the Delta Hospice Society (DHS) and expropriated its ten-bed hospice building because it refused to participate in euthanasia killing. The Delta Health Authority took over its premises at the Irene Thomas Hospice in order to provide medicalized end-of-life killing last year, with NDP Health Minister Adrian Dix insisting it was merely about ensuring patients had access to euthanasia.

Since that time the DHS has organized to regain its footing and open a new, life-affirming hospice and made a significant step in that direction during its 2022 annual general meeting online that began March 26 and concluded April 2. At its conclusion, 76 per cent of members of the Delta Hospice Society voted to elect a board of directors that opposes euthanasia and supported an amendment to the constitution and bylaws that codified the organization’s opposition to euthanasia and assisted-suicide, that it affirmed life to its natural end. More than 3100 Society members voted for the anti-euthanasia directors and amendment.

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, was among the new board of directors elected. He reported that “The Delta Hospice Society will soon initiate its plans to create an independent hospice that is privately funded and does not provide euthanasia (MAiD)” because “The DHS is committed to creating safe places for people to die.”

“It’s a win for pro-life nation,” society president Angelina Ireland told The B.C. Catholic after the meeting. “Going forward with a clear vision for the organization is important.”

The amended constitution includes a commitment to “a traditional understanding of the principles of palliative care, which excludes Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD),” prohibits any “MAiD-related activities” by the society, and requires all new members to “demonstrate a commitment to this traditional understanding of the principles of palliative care.”

A pro-euthanasia group organizing under the name Take Back Delta Hospice sought to represent itself as a local grassroots group but it had ties to Dying with Dignity. Despite the connection and nation-wide effort to get euthanasia activists to join as Society members, the anti-MAiD forces won the day and with the constitutional amendments, it will be difficult to reverse the DHS life-affirming position.

Ireland said when the Canadian pro-life movement comes together, “we are mighty … we are more influential than people give us credit for.”

As for lessons learned, Ireland said “We would never get into any kind of agreement with the government ever again.” She wondered if government will try to impose its pro-euthanasia policies on a private entity.