For the past two years, the Delta Hospice Society (DHS) found itself at the centre of the debate over true hospice palliative care versus euthanasia, aka Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD).
On Saturday, April 2nd, the battle for control of the Delta Hospice Society ended with a vote of 75% in favour of the current board and a constitutional amendment to keep the society focused on true hospice palliative care.
In 2016, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government passed legislation to legalize assisted suicide. In response to that legislation, the B.C. government issued a directive that required a hospice to give patients access MAiD in their facility if their beds are more than 50% publicly funded.
The BC Government estimates 90% of Delta Hospice Society’s operating budget was publicly funded.
The Delta Hospice Society’s Board of Directors, led by Angelina Ireland, vehemently opposed MAiD because it violates the fundamental tenets of true hospice palliative care.
They took a principled stand and refused to allow MAiD in their facility.
This led to a split in the society between former board members and current. A lengthy and expensive legal battle ensued for control of the society ensued between the two factions, Take Back Delta Hospice and the society’s current board of directors.
On February 25, 2020, Fraser Health issued a media release stating:
Fraser Health will stop funding the Delta Hospice Society (DHS) on Feb. 25, 2021, providing the required 365-days notice to end their service agreement without cause.
The termination follows the DHS board’s refusal to comply with the provincial medical assistance in dying (MAiD) policy.
Delta Hospice Society Board President Angelina Ireland issued her own statement a short time later.
“Our not-for-profit society has a constitution, purpose, and a membership that does not include MAiD as part of our ethos. We follow the philosophy of every international palliative care organization in the world, including the World Health Organization, that MAiD is not part of palliative care. We declined to provide MAiD because it is not part of the provision of hospice palliative care.
“Shockingly, the Fraser Health Authority unilaterally cancelled our Service Agreement and parlayed that into a default in our land lease which they granted to us 10 years ago. The manufactured lease default permits Fraser Health to confiscate $9.5 million of our assets without compensation. Our solid community work of 30 years is about to be stolen from us.”
“With the introduction of MAiD legislation, we are sure it was not the Government’s intention to destroy authentic palliative care facilities like our hospice and replace them with MAiD Centres, but that is what has happened here.”
The provincial government made good on its threat and seized Delta Hospice Society’s facilities – the Irene Thomas Hospice and the Harold and Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care.
2022 Annual General Meeting
Severe technical difficulties with the Converso platform meant the Annual General Meeting was adjourned part way through on March 26th, with the balance of the AGM held on April 2nd.
Despite those challenges, voting for the new board and constitutional amendments were successful.
Of Delta Hospice Society’s 13,518 eligible members, over 5,000 voted during April 2nd’s online finale to the AGM.
Elected to the Board of Directors for the Delta Hospice Society are:
- Angelina Ireland, President
- Rev. Danielle Martell, Vice President
- Mark Ruelle, Treasurer
- Jim Canil, Secretary
- Kathlyn Palafox, Director
- Jim Taggart, Director
- Dr. Richard Smyth, Director
- Alexander Schadenberg, Director
- Elizabeth Lawson, Director
- Lorena Angus, Director
The following constitutional amendment was passed with 76% of the membership voting in favour.
“Delta Hospice Society is committed to a traditional understanding of the principles of palliative care, which excludes Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD), prohibiting the Society from engaging in any MAiD-related activities, and requiring all new applicants and renewing members to demonstrate a commitment to this traditional understanding of the principles of palliative care.”
Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, issued his own news release.
Great news: More than 75% of the members of the Delta Hospice Society voted to elect a new board that oppose euthanasia (MAiD) and they also supported the amendment to the constitution and bylaws for the group. Many supporters of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition are also members of the Delta Hospice Society.
In February 2021, the BC Ministry of Health defunded the Delta Hospice Society (DHS) and expropriated it’s 10 bed hospice building because the DHS refused to participate in euthanasia.
On Saturday, March 26, an online meeting was held for the Delta Hospice Society members to vote on a new board of directors and a revised constitution and bylaws to ensure that Delta Hospice Society provides palliative care that affirms life to its natural end. The March 26 meeting was not finished and was completed on April 2.
There were issues with the online platform but everyone who joined the meeting were able to vote online or by phone.
I was elected to the DHS Board of Directors. The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition supports the direction and goals of the Delta Hospice Society.
The Delta Hospice Society will soon initiate its plans to create an independent hospice that is privately funded and does not provide euthanasia (MAiD). The DHS is committed to creating safe places for people to die.
Brief History of the Delta Hospice Society
The Delta Hospice Society was founded to support families living with the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness. They advocate for authentic, dignified palliative care, which does not include euthanasia – commonly referred to as Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD).
Their core values are :
- Every life is a precious gift, and every life is always of equal value.
- No person has the right to shorten or end another life.
- End-of-life care is the enrichment of life to its natural end.
- Palliative care is the medical, social, psychological and spiritual care of a dying person.
- Palliative care never involves euthanasia, assisted suicide or any other intervention intended to hasten death.
- Hospice care is palliative care in a community setting.
The Society was incorporated in July 1991 in the province of British Colombia as a non-profit organization. The Society was registered with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) as a registered charity with the ability to issue official tax receipts for the of eligible gifts to the Society.
A Brief History of Hospice Palliative Care
The first hospices date back to the fourth century when Christians in Europe provided care to the sick and destitute. The word hospice is derived from the Latin word hospitium, which means hospitality or hospitable when referencing a place of shelter and rest for weary or ill travelers. Palliative (noun or adjective) and palliate (verb) are derived from the Latin palliare, which means ‘to cloak.’
1948: Physician Dame Cicely Saunders begins her work with the terminally ill and eventually applies the name hospice to specialized care for dying patients.
1967: Dame Cicely Saunders establishes the first modern hospice—St. Christopher’s Hospice, a sixty-bed facility for the terminally ill, in London, UK. As the first modern hospice, it sought to combine three key principles: excellent clinical care, education, and research. It therefore differed significantly from those homes for the dying which had preceded it and sought to establish itself as a centre of excellence in a new field of care. Its success was phenomenal, and it soon became the stimulus for an expansive phase of hospice development, not only in Britain, but also around the world. From the outset, ideas developed at St Christopher’s were applied differently in other settings.
1969: A book based on more than 500 interviews with dying patients is published, entitled, On Death and Dying. Written by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, it identifies the five stages through which many terminally ill patients progress. The book becomes an international best seller. Kubler-Ross argues for home care as opposed to treatment in an institutional setting and advocates that patients should have a choice and the ability to participate in the decisions that affect their destiny. The work of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in challenging the medical profession to change its view of dying patients brought about great change and advanced many important concepts such as living wills, home healthcare, and helping patients to die with dignity and respect.
1974: The first palliative care unit opens at Winnipeg’s St. Boniface General Hospital. Within a matter of weeks, the second palliative care unit in Canada opens at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal by Canadian physician Dr. Balfour Mount who also coins the term ‘palliative care’ as it is used in the modern context.
1981: The Palliative Care Foundation in Toronto proposes a definition of palliative care. They state that “palliative care is active compassionate care of the terminally ill at a time when they’re no longer responsive to traditional treatment aimed at cure and prolongation of life and when the control of symptoms, physical and emotional, is paramount. It is multidisciplinary in its approach and encompasses the patient, the family, and the community in its scope.”
1986: The World Health Organization (WHO) defines palliative care.
2000: The PBS series On Our Own Terms: Moyers on Dying in America is the focus of national education and engagement programs.
2005: In the UK, there are just under 1,700 hospice services consisting of 220 inpatient units for adults with 3,156 beds, 33 inpatient units for children with 255 beds, 358 home care services, 104 hospice-at -home services, 263 day-care services, and 293 hospital teams. These services together help over 250,000 people.
2006: Pope Benedict XVI equates palliative care with “the preservation of human dignity” and defends the provision of care to the sick as a human right.
2007: The Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance forms to address global care needs at the end-of-life.
2009: The first pan-European centre devoted to improving palliative care and end-of-life care is established in Trondheim, Norway. The centre is based at NTNU’s Faculty of Medicine and at St. Olav’s Hospital/Trondheim University Hospital and coordinates efforts between groups and individual researchers across Europe, specifically Scotland, England, Italy, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland, along with the United States, Canada, and Australia.
2014: Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance’s Global Atlas of Palliative Care at the End of Life declares palliative care to be a human right.
2017: Bill C-277, the “Framework on Palliative Care in Canada Act,” becomes law. The goal of this private member bill is to improve end-of-life healthcare for all Canadians.
2018: Health Canada publishes A Framework for Palliative Care in Canada.