Delta Mayor George Harvie is asking Premier John Horgan to “take whatever steps” he can to make sure money raised at the Delta Hospice Society (DHS)’s Hospice Cottage Charity Shoppe is used to support hospice care in the community.
At the society’s AGM on April 2, members re-elected all 10 “life-affirming” directors of the board and endorsed an amendment stating the 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.”
“Today marks a historic day for our society and for all Canadians who endorse life-affirming palliative care,” DHS president Angelina Ireland said in a press release.
“Despite unfounded criticisms, tremendous antagonism and attacks from multiple fronts, our members delivered a strong mandate to provide only true palliative care and to pursue our vision for creating hospice sanctuaries free from euthanasia.”
The society lost control of the Irene Thomas Hospice and neighbouring Harold and Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care on March 29, 2021, a year after Fraser Health announced it would end the DHS’s service agreement and lease due to the board’s refusal to allow MAiD at the hospice.
The Hospice Cottage Charity Shoppe, located at 1521 56th St. in Tsawwassen, is still owned and operated by the society and brings in more than $700,000 per year.
In his letter, Harvie urged the premier “take whatever steps you can to ensure that thrift store assets and revenue are restored to the Irene Thomas Hospice as originally intended by the Delta community.”
Harvie stated the thrift store, valued at nearly $3 million, was created using community funds for the purpose of generating income to support services at the hospice. Instead, under the current board, revenue generated by the shop is being used by the society to support a national “1-800” palliative care help line.
“The Delta Hospice Society does not represent the interests of the Delta community,” Harvie wrote, adding DHS’s board has been actively recruiting members who are sympathetic to their religious and pro-life beliefs.
“Of the 13,518 voting members, only 2,919 are from Delta. The rest are from other parts of Canada or outside the country,” he wrote.
In October of 2020, Delta council voted unanimously to deny the society’s application to renew a permissive tax exemption for the Charity Shoppe due to the board’s refusal to allow MAiD at the Irene Thomas Hospice, efforts to amend the DHS’s constitution and bylaws to make it a faith-based organization, well as efforts to restrict membership in the society.
“The society’s actions are not inclusive to all Delta residents and have resulted in division within our community. Therefore, in order to stand in opposition of the division within the community, it is recommended that a 2021 permissive tax exemption be denied for the property,” according to a staff report to council.
At the time, municipal taxes on the property were estimated to be $20,500.