British Columbia

Delta Hospice chair says sorry for equating medically assisted death with the Holocaust

Angelina Ireland made the Auschwitz reference is a speech she gave at a religious right convention in the United States.

Angelina Ireland made the Auschwitz reference while speaking at a religious right convention in the U.S.

Angelina Ireland during her speech and presentation in Independence, Ohio earlier this year. (Youtube)

The head of the Delta Hospice Society says she is sorry for comparing medical assistance in dying to the mass murder of Jews at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp.

Angelina Ireland issued the apology on Twitter after being contacted by the The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

"It was wrong of me to use the Holocaust as a comparison tool to advance my discussion of Euthanasia," she said.

Ireland became chair of the Delta Hospice Society six months ago. In a speech at a religious right convention in the U.S. posted on Youtube, she told the crowd how the society stopped providing MAiD the day after she came to power.

"We said you know what Fraser Health Authority and Province of British Columbia, 'this is the Delta Hospice Society, not the Delta Auschwitz Society,'" she said in the speech.

Nico Slobinsky, Pacific regional director with The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, says Ireland's statement is offensive. 

'Ignorant comments'

"These are ignorant comments that trivialize the brutal slaughter of the millions of victims of Nazi barbarity," said Slobinsky.

"We understand that medical assistance in dying is a difficult and emotional and important debate. But nobody should ever compare the ability to access medical dying to the Holocaust."

The Irene Thomas Hospice is pictured in Delta, British Columbia on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Slobinsky said his organization had reached out to Ireland to invite her to the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre.

Funding and contracts revoked

In February, Health Minister Adrian Dix announced the province was pulling $1.5 million in annual funding from the Delta Hospice Society and cancelling its contracts with Fraser Health, effective Feb. 25, 2021.

The move was directly in response to the decision to disallow MAiD at the 10-bed Irene Thomas Hospice.

MAiD was passed into federal law in 2016 and gives an individual the choice of a medically assisted death within strict parameters.

The decision to stop MAiD and the society's move to become a faith-based Christian organization has brought on a storm of controversy in the Vancouver municipality where the board is facing allegations of membership stacking.

Dix says when the contract with DHS expires early next year, he doesn't expect interruptions to the day-to-day operations of the hospice. 

"We made it clear we're moving on, that critical decisions about health issues and access to health issues really shouldn't be decided by sign-up battles at local societies," he said.

"That facility has to follow the Community Care and Assisted Living Act and has obligations under that. So they have to function consistent with the rules and its medical function."

Dix is meeting with Delta Mayor George Harvie, Delta MLAs Ian Paton and Ravi Kahlon and Delta MP Carla Qualtrough this weekend to discuss concerns around the Delta Hospice Society.