Email Your Ontario MPP: Put patients rights ahead of hospitals' beliefs on assisted dying

The Ontario government has nicknamed its new healthcare bill the Patients First Act. But if passed un-amended, this legislation threatens to entrench one of the biggest barriers that face Ontarians looking to access their right to assisted dying: rules that allow publicly funded hospitals to ban assisted dying on their premises.

When it was first tabled in the spring, the bill proposed giving Ontario’s health minister the power to issue binding policy directives to a hospital board in response to a provincial investigation into its operations. Allowing the minister to intervene when a hospital was found to have mismanaged funds or abused patients’ rights seems like a good idea. And to us, it represented a possible path to reigning in hospitals that refuse to respect Ontarians’ right to a peaceful death.

But something happened over the summer. Liberal Health Minister Eric Hoskins had to re-introduce this fall the legislation after Premier Kathleen Wynne prorogued the legislature. Without fanfare, the government slipped an alarming addition into the bill. The proposed law still allows the health minister to issue policy directives to hospital boards, but now there’s a catch: he can’t tell the board of a faith-based but publicly funded hospital to allow treatments that conflict with their religion’s point of view.

This is extremely disappointing, and it suggests that the province isn’t willing to take on the dozens of unelected, unaccountable hospital boards across the province that want to unfairly restrict access to assisted dying. After all, hospitals, hospices and long-term care homes that receive public funds have no business requiring frail, vulnerable, and dying Canadians to travel — sometimes over long distances — in order to access their right to a peaceful death. Allowing facilities to forbid assisted death on their premises simply puts too great a burden on the individual patient and represents a violation of their duty as public healthcare providers to ensure compassionate, non-judgmental care to Ontarians at end of life.

What you can do

Tell your representative at Queen’s Park that it’s unfair to allow publicly funded hospitals to impede your right to a peaceful death. Use our new Ontario Email-a-Rep tool to send your MPP a powerful message urging them speak out in the legislature against healthcare rules that put hospital boards’ beliefs ahead of Ontarians’ hard-won rights.

Here's how it works:

  • Enter your address so the tool knows which MPP to email.
  • Then, enter your name and email address. (Phone number is optional.)
  • You can use the default text, or you can customize it to make your message even more powerful.

When you're done, click "Send my email." Your message will be delivered electronically to your local MPP as well as Premier Kathleen Wynne, Health Minister Eric Hoskins and Anthony Dale, the president and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association.

Once you’re done, send the link to your friends and family, and post it to social media. Together, we can ensure that all public hospitals fulfill their duty to respect Ontarians’ rights!

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