Freedom of Conscience Tag

20 Apr 2021 Bill C-268: Protection of Freedom of Conscience Act

Since the legalization of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) in 2016, there has been little effort to protect the consciences of those who refuse to participate in providing MAiD. The recent euthanasia legislation has increased access to MAiD, and doctors will increasingly run into conscientious problems with patient requests for MAiD. Currently, the province of Manitoba is the only province that specifically protects the conscience rights of physicians. Under Manitoba’s legislation, medical professionals can refuse to participate in MAiD if it violates their personal convictions. They cannot be required to provide...

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14 Apr 2021 ARPA Submits Recommendations for Freedom of Conscience for Ontario Physicians

Freedom of conscience is an issue that is increasingly at stake in our society. While freedom of conscience has a role in many areas of life, one specific area is in the medical field. In light of legalized and recently expanded access to euthanasia, doctors are at risk of being forced to participate in providing euthanasia to patients, whether directly or indirectly, even if their consciences do not permit it. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) is requesting feedback on their policy and guidelines for Ontario physicians regarding...

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20 Mar 2021 College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario Consultation

The CPSO is the regulatory body for all medical professionals in Ontario. Physicians are required to register with the CPSO, who will then monitor quality of care and investigate and discipline any doctors who do not follow professional conduct as described in the various policies. Regarding Medical Assistance in Dying, the CPSO has no authority over the existing legislation or changes to it – this would fall to Federal and Provincial legislatures, or to the courts. However, the CPSO does have jurisdiction over the policies given to doctors regarding how...

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29 Nov 2019 What’s going on with Bill 207, Alberta’s conscience rights bill?

  *UPDATE (added Dec. 5): On Monday, December 2, while MLA Dan Williams was speaking on Bill 207, a tragic incident occurred outside the Assembly, which then adjourned. Consequently, Bill 207 was delayed. It will likely be revisited in February 2020, once the legislature resumes. Last week, an Alberta legislative committee voted against Bill 207.  So, is Bill 207 dead? Not quite. Ordinarily, a bill gets debated in the Assembly at second reading. Then, if it passes the “second reading vote”, it goes to an appropriate committee for closer study, where amendments are often...

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20 Nov 2019 Dispelling myths about Alberta’s conscience rights bill

  Bill 207, tabled by Alberta MLA Dan Williams, now faces fierce opposition. The bill proposes protections for health care providers’ freedom of conscience. It is scheduled for a vote at second reading on Monday, November 25. It deserves to pass and proceed to committee for further review and possible improvements.   Bill 207 does not threaten access to health care The primary line of attack is that Bill 207 threatens “access to health care”. “Imagine … a patient being denied access to a therapeutic abortion even if the woman’s life is in danger,”...

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07 Nov 2019 New Alberta bill offers robust protections for freedom of conscience

    We have encouraging news. Dan Williams, MLA for Peace River, Alberta, tabled a bill today that would protect both individual health care providers and health care facilities from being required to provide services that conflict with their religious beliefs, conscientious beliefs, ethical judgment, or cultural traditions. One of the bill’s stated purposes is to provide certainty to health care providers and religious health care organizations with respect to exercising their Charter-protected freedoms of conscience and religion. This is greatly needed in a time when both individual providers and religious health care...

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10 Jul 2019 Merging palliative care and MAiD

Increasing pressure on palliative care providers to offer assisted suicide and euthanasia   At a recent conference hosted by the Canadian Association of MAiD Assessors and Providers (CAMAP), three doctors presented on how euthanasia could be pushed into palliative care spaces. Evidently, some palliative care physicians and nurses believe that “Medical Assistance in Dying” or “MAiD”* is a natural part of palliative care. But many are strongly opposed to the encroachment of MAiD into palliative care wards and facilities. In May 2019, the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians clarified in a statement...

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31 May 2019 Ontario’s Highest Court Finds a Way Around Physicians’ Freedom of Conscience and Religion

Bodes ill for future fundamental freedom cases by John Sikkema Back in 2008, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) issued a new policy entitled “Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code.” That policy informed physicians that they should be prepared to “set aside their personal beliefs” in providing healthcare. It warned that the Human Rights Code has no defence for discriminatory refusals of medical services, “even if the refusal is based on the physician’s moral or religious belief.” The policy did not explain how to determine whether a refusal...

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22 May 2019 Do Not Bow Down: What the LSO Bencher Election Teaches Us About Being a “Certain” Christian

Guest blog by Lia Milousis On April 30th, 2019, the Law Society of Ontario (LSO), the body that governs lawyers and paralegals in the province, elected a new board. In this election, a group of 22 candidates took a public stand against the LSO’s controversial Statement of Principles (SOP) mandate, which ARPA has written about. The SOP mandates all lawyers licensed in Ontario “to adopt and to abide by a statement of principles acknowledging their obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion generally, and in their behavior towards colleagues, employees, clients and...

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24 Jan 2019 Conscience rights for physicians – do they matter for patients?

We can all understand why conscience rights matter to doctors – they want the freedom to practice medicine in a way that does not conflict with their moral or religious beliefs. As an employee, we should all have that freedom to follow our conscience without fear of career repercussions. But do conscience rights also matter for patients? At ARPA Canada, we believe they matter deeply. They matter in the selection of medical care providers, in our relationship with our medical care providers, and because of the reason why conscience rights are...

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