Vancouver Island residents: Speak out for fair access to assisted dying in the Comox Valley

Dr. Jonathan Reggler of Vancouver Island resigned from the ethics committee at St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox in October 2016 because it is refusing to offer assisted dying on site. As a family physician, Dr. Reggler provides care to many patients who want to choose an assisted death but are not allowed to in this publicly funded Catholic hospital.

Dr. Reggler says that patients at St. Joseph’s seeking this service must be driven 45 minutes north to Campbell River or an hour and a half south to Nanaimo. “We’re talking about very sick patients having to be transferred – people who are close to death — and it’s wrong.” We agree.

Dr. Jonathan Reggler

Dr. Jonathan Reggler stepped down from the medical ethics board at St. Joseph's in protest of the hospital's policy on assisted dying.

We believe it is wrong for a publicly funded institution to be able to opt out of providing this legal health care service. Bill C-14 says individuals can choose not to be involved with assisted dying, but nothing in the law says that institutions can opt out. In fact, they are denying their own staff the right to decide for themselves whether to participate in helping patients achieve the assisted death they want.

“This is the cruellest hospital policy that I have ever encountered in over 30 years of medical practice,” Dr. Reggler said in his resignation letter. “St. Joseph’s motto ‘care with compassion’ rings hollow now.”

To read more about Dr. Reggler's decision, see these articles: 

What you can do

Help us help Dr. Reggler make a difference for patients on Vancouver Island who want the choice of a medically assisted death at St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox, B.C. Use our new Vancouver Island Email-a-Rep tool to tell St. Joseph’s to change its policy to allow residents to exercise their right to a peaceful death on site — without unreasonable delays or gruelling transfers.

Here's how it works:

  • Enter your postal code so the recipients know where you hail from.
  • 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 sent to St. Joseph's CEO and President Jane Murphy and Board Chair Chris Kelsey. A copy will go to Island Health CEO Brendan Carr, Premier Christy Clark, Health Minister Terry Lake and Comox Valley MLA Don McCrae.

Once you’re done, send the link to your friends and family, and post it to social media. Act today!

And, if you haven’t already done so, please use Dying With Dignity Canada's new B.C. Email-a-Rep tool to ask Premier Christy Clark to remove unfair barriers to access for assisted dying at all public health care institutions in the province.

(Background photo credit: Gerry Thomasen/Flickr)