The Protection of Freedom of Conscience Act introduced in the House of Commons
Thursday, February 18, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Martensville, Saskatchewan - Earlier today, Kelly Block, Member of Parliament for Carlton Trail – Eagle Creek, tabled a private members bill to protect the conscience rights of medical professionals.
“Freedom of Conscience is one of the first fundamental rights laid out in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and it is at the core of our Canadian identity,” said MP Block. “This private members bill is a response to calls from physicians and patients to ensure conscience rights for medical professionals.”
The bill would extend protections for medical professionals who have chosen to not take part, directly or indirectly, in medical assistance in dying or euthanasia. It would make it a punishable offense to use violence, threats, coercion, or intimidation in order to force a medical professional to take part in or refer a patient for medical assistance in dying or assisted suicide. It also prohibits the firing or refusal to hire medical professionals if the sole reason is their refusal to take part in medical assistance in dying.
“In the absence of conscience protection, the group with the most to lose are the patients-- the people we are all trying to help,” stated Dr. Ellen Warner a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and a staff medical oncologist at the Odette Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook since 1993. “If all physicians who treat incurable diseases must promote medical assistance in dying, then there will no longer be such a thing as a second opinion.”
Dr. Heidi Janz who is an adjunct professor at the University of Alberta and who multiple severe disabilities said of the bill, “When I was born, my mother’s conscience told her it is good I exist. We need to protect conscience rights so I can find doctors who believe so too.”
Medical associations, medical professional groups, and other concerned organizations across Canada have called for conscience protection for medical professions including the Ontario Medical Association and First Nation leaders in recent letters to the federal Minister of Justice.
This Bill protects the doctor-patient relationship by ensuring doctors and other medical professionals are always able to recommend and provide the care they believe is best for their patient.
Every patient deserves a second opinion. Conscience protections ensure that second opinions are always an option.
Office of MP Kelly Block
Email: [email protected]