British Columbia

Decision reserved in Delta Hospice Society appeal over membership fight

The Delta Hospice Society has been accused of vote stacking in efforts to ban medically assisted death at the Irene Thomas Hospice.

B.C. Court of Appeal considers arguments in what is ostensibly a battle over offering medically assisted death

The Delta Hospice Society is appealing a B.C. Supreme Court ruling saying it had to accept membership applications that had been denied. (Canadian Press)

A decision on the appeal brought by the Delta Hospice Society (DHS) against a lower court ruling that ordered it to accept hundreds of rejected membership applications has been reserved.

The B.C. Court of Appeal heard submissions from both the current DHS board of directors and community group Take Back Delta Hospice, led by three former board members on Wednesday.

Take Back Delta Hospice organizer Chris Pettypiece said that in the interim, judges ordered that the freeze placed on the society's activities in June remain in place until a decision was rendered.

Underlying the legal action is a fight over offering medical assistance in dying (MAiD) at the 10-bed Irene Thomas Hospice, which is operated by DHS.

The current DHS board of directors voted to ban MAiD soon after coming to power late last year.

They then set about selecting who could and couldn't join as a voting member, arguing that was within their right as a private society. 

On the other side are supporters of access to MAiD, who feel that as a public asset, DHS should be open to all members of the greater Delta community.

In June, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick ordered DHS to accept all rejected membership applications going back six months and cancelled an extraordinary general meeting where members were to vote on amendments to the society's constitution that would make it an expressly Christian organization.

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