A hospice must provide a medically-assisted death if a patient asks: Fraser Health

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Fraser Health is refusing to back down in a showdown with the Delta Hospice Society over medically-assisted death.

The society has been fighting the health authority for several months over a move to require the provision of medical assistance in dying (MAiD) at a number of facilities across the region, including hospices.

READ MORE: Delta hospices say they want no part in medically assisted deaths

On Wednesday, Fraser Health made it clear it will not bend, and that services will be provided whether the hospices like them or not.

Fraser Health board chair Jim Sinclair said that under the Canada Health Act, hospices are obligated to provide MAiD if a client requests it.

“The right to a medically-assisted death is a step forward, not a step backwards,” Sinclair said.

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“The question is how are we going to exercise that right in the communities we live in.”

READ MORE: B.C. assisted dying review finds program working well, but room for improvement

But Nancy Macey, executive director of the Delta Hospice Society, told Global News that her organization won’t back down either, and will do whatever it can to fight the procedure.

“The worldwide definition of hospice/palliative care is not to hasten or postpone death, so there’s an ethical problem there, trying to put the two together,” she said.

“They can’t piggy back that program on top of hospice/palliative care. It’s like oil and water, we’re about living and they’re about death.”

People in the Fraser Health region who want medical help taking their own lives must go through a process that includes witnesses to the request, an assessment and a 10-day waiting period to reflect on the decision.

According to Fraser Health, 25 people within the health region have undergone medically-assisted death since it became legal 18 months ago.

Between Jan. 1, 2016 and Aug. 31, 2017, 631 medically-assisted deaths took place in B.C.

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