Institutional Religious Obstructions

Everything you need to know about Institutional Religious Obstructions, including forced transfers, in Canada.

An Institutional Religious Obstruction (IRO) occurs when an institution denies, blocks, or impedes a person’s legal right to health care, including medical assistance in dying (MAID), on religious grounds. IROs can take many forms, the most egregious of which is a forced transfer from the institution but can also include refusing to provide information about MAID upon request, not allowing MAID assessments on-site, and/or denying admission to hospice or palliative care because the patient wishes to access MAID at a later point.

Dying With Dignity Canada (DWDC) has joined forces with Arvay Finlay, Gaye O’Neill and Dr. Jyothi Jayaraman in a court challenge to ensure that the rights of vulnerable patients to access MAID are protected within all publicly-funded health care facilities in BC. A claim was filed on June 17, 2024 to end the practice of forced transfers at faith-based organizations – such as St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. Read more about this court challenge.


  • Individual clinicians have the right to object, for conscience reasons, to providing medical assistance in dying (MAID) or other medical treatments. The issue of Institutional Religious Obstructions is not about the objection of clinicians, but that of institutions, which do not have conscience rights.
  • Dying With Dignity Canada is presently focused on religious obstructions but we recognize that there are other obstructions or barriers to MAID for non-religious reasons. If you have experienced any obstruction (religious or not), please share your story with our team here.

A 2023 poll conducted by Ipsos on behalf of DWDC shows that 73% of people across Canada believe that publicly funded health care facilities should be required to provide the full range of health care services, including MAID, if they have the proper equipment and staff to do so.

Advocacy Toolkit and Action Guide

This toolkit has been designed to provide you with the messaging and resources
to effectively communicate DWDC’s position on Institutional Religious Obstructions (IROs) to the provincial/territorial members of your legislature or assembly.

Tell your local representative: All health care facilities that receive taxpayer funding must permit MAID onsite

People in Canada are being denied access to medical assistance in dying (MAID) at publicly funded health care facilities across the country.

Empower. Inform. Protect your rights.