British Columbia

Christian care home facility won't allow physician-assisted dying

A B.C. Christian organization that runs several care homes for seniors won't allow physician-assisted dying at its facilities.

Baptist Housing says it will help clients transfer to another facility if they wish

Baptist Housing — a Christian provider of care and services for seniors — says its policies don't support the practice of physician assisted-dying. (CBC)

A B.C. Christian organization that runs several care homes for seniors across the province won't allow physician-assisted dying at its facilities. 

Baptist Housing — a Christian provider of care and services for seniors — offers palliative care at some of its locations, but it says its policies won't support the practice of physician assisted-dying. 

"We feel that as a faith organization we would want to exercise our conscience in terms of that. We do believe that there is sanctity in life," said Howard Johnson, CEO of Baptist Housing. 

'Disappointing and unconstitutional'

Johnson said the organization will help clients transfer to another facility if they wish to seek out physician-assisted dying. 

"We respect every person in terms of their right. We would see ourselves as simply providing a safe transfer to an appropriate place to have their wishes honoured," said Johnson. 

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association is calling the stance disappointing and unconstitutional. 

Grace Pastine with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association worries terminally ill patients who are unwilling or unable to leave the care facility will be forced to die in agony. (CBC)

"The fact of the matter is physician-assisted dying is a constitutional right for critically ill Canadians," said Grace Pastine, litigation director with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. 

She worries terminally ill patients who are unwilling or unable to leave the care facility will be forced to die in agony. 

Pastine believes that all institutions that are funded in some way by local health authorities should be required to provide physician-assisted dying to those patients that qualify for assistance. 

"I think it sends a message that their constitutional rights are not respected at Baptist Housing," she said. 

With files from the CBC's Daybreak South.