An Ontario government funding agency has given $177,800 over three years to the pro-euthanasia group Dying With Dignity.

LifeSite News, the internet arm of Interim Publishing, found that the Trillium Foundation has provided grants to DWD, perhaps making the provincial government complicit in illegal activity; namely, promoting suicide.

The story has caught the attention of the mainstream media, put DWD on the hot seat and led to an investigation by the Trillium Foundation.

The Ottawa Citizen reported on it, quoting Kathy St. John, executive director of Dying With Dignity, denying her group uses the money to counsel suicide: “We absolutely do not counsel, aid or abet assisted suicide.”

But Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, is not convinced. He points to Dying with Dignity’s own website, where it notes that DWD is “a member and active participant in the World Federation of Right to Die Societies” and that one of its goals is to “build public support for legal change to permit voluntary, physician-assisted dying.” Schadenberg also says DWD is a participant at NuTech conferences. NuTech promotes the “Exit Bag – Suicide Bag,” the “Debreather” and the use of helium as a suicide agent.

The Trillium Foundation said it will look into the matter, but a spokesman said that DWD had already passed the foundation’s screening process and it is unlikely that an enterprise promoting criminal activity would have been funded.

St. John told the Ottawa Citizen that the pilot project that the Trillium Foundation is funding “will be for members of Dying With Dignity who are faced with important end-of-life decisions,” but she did not elaborate on the details of the program. The Catholic Register said that St. John has described the program as being for “terminally ill individuals who are faced with making important end-of-life decisions. They are going to come to us for information and support in making these decisions. We’re going to work alongside family members, health care professionals, other care givers as directed by the terminally ill client.”

Schadenberg worries about what “support” entails.”We gravely question the legal nature of the counselling that is done by Dying With Dignity, and demand that the organization (Trillium Foundation) prove that they do not counsel, aid or abet assisted suicides.” He added that while he has seen no indication that DWD plans to encourage euthanasia, the group’s stance on the issue is reason enough to cancel the grant. “Their program stands for providing the full breadth of end-of-life options, and one of the options they stand for – assisted-suicide – is illegal. You have to question the motives of a pro-euthanasia group.”

The EPC also questions whether the Ontario Trillium Foundation officials who approved the grant will be willing to reverse their decision without an independent review. “We believe that it is in the interest of the Ontario Ministry of Culture to do an independent inquiry into this matter.”