(Black Press file photo)

(Black Press file photo)

COLUMN: MAiD controversy at Delta Hospice

ML Burke writes that medical assistance in dying should be an option at hospices in Delta

“Death is a long, long sleep. Sleep is a short, short death.”

This is my favourite classical round, by Joseph Haydn. I love a good night’s sleep, plus an afternoon nap. I’ll power nap on road trips and own a nightshirt that shouts “Queen of Naps.” Like most of us mortals, when my time comes, I want to die peacefully in my sleep.

I am at an age where the deaths of friends and family are becoming too common. I lost five people in the past six weeks, and the frequency of death does not make it any easier. The coming into, and the inevitable leaving of, this world is natural but often difficult. We celebrate births and mark deaths through various ceremonies. We grieve together and alone until eventually the pain of the person’s passing lessens. Sometimes help is needed for a successful birth, which we give without question. I believe assistance should also be offered to the terminally ill who suffer and want it to be over.

The Delta Hospice Society is refusing to offer patients the option of MAiD (medical assistance in dying). Nancy Macey, the executive director, said, “Under our constitution, we are not able to provide euthanasia.”

Delta Hospice is a non-profit society, run by a board of directors with a voting membership. They receive funding from both the private sector and government. This means a portion of our taxes helps to support this society. They are not a private club. If their constitution does not condone MAiD on their premises, then they need to update it (i.e. pass a special resolution at their AGM) to be in line with the will of the community. If Fraser Health and other levels of government were to pull their funding I’m sure it would seriously affect their bottom line.

CTV News reported that 87 per cent of British Columbians support MAiD. It became legal in July 2016, throughout Canada. The B.C. and federal governments maintain the position that no doctor or nurse practitioner will be forced to perform MAiD if it is against their personal beliefs. Providence Health, a partner of B.C.’s health authorities, runs 10 faith-based hospitals, residences and clinics, including St. Paul’s and St. Vincent’s. Providence has voiced concerns about MAiD and refused to allow patients or residents to receive this service, citing religious freedoms. It makes me wonder what our progressive Pope Francis would say about this.

Palliative care is a blessing for those approaching the end of life. Being able to spend it in a hospice setting rather than a hospital is even better. Acute care is when the system is trying to cure the patient, and involves poking, prodding, tests, medications, uncomfortable procedures or surgeries. Palliative care is when they simply keep you as comfortable and pain-free as possible until the end. Palliative care can be administered at home, but often the patient requires more professional help than caregivers can provide.

Hospices are specifically for end-of-life care, so why wouldn’t MAiD be one of its options? It’s about choice. It’s my life and I should have the right to decide how I want it to end. I choose the long, long sleep. To borrow from the beautiful words of the song Wildflower by Skylark, “Please don’t wake me, for sleep is the only peace I know.”

ML Burke retired from the health sector to work on issues such as affordable housing. She sits on the Delta Seniors Planning Team and the BC Seniors Advocate’s Council of Advisors.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

President of the West Coast Fine Arts Show, Brian Croft, said pandemic restrictions necessitated a shift to an entirely online event this year, running until April 30. (File photo)
The West Fine Art Show shifts to an online-only event amid tighter health orders

Website version retains the flavour of the annual live exhibition

A vaccine-filled needle awaits injection, during a COVID-19 vaccination clinic held Jan. 15, 2021 at Amica White Rock. Community Living B.C.-funded workers learned April 8 that they, too, can now be vaccinated. (Tracy Holmes file photo)
Support workers for those with disabilities given vaccine priority

News shared with Community Living B.C.-funded staff on April 8

British Columbia Attorney General David Eby. (Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Attorney General covers housing, homelessness and justice reform in Surrey Zoom

‘I think it would be really great to hold some sessions in Surrey,’ Eby says of legislative assembly

Scott Wheatley stands with the main Kenyan and Ugandan umpiring crew that he trained at the Nakirebe Complex outside of Kampala in 2020. Wheatley, a member-at-large with Softball B.C. is supporting a recent open letter from the sporting body that calls on the government to reinstate gameplay for kids in organized sports. (Photo: Submitted)
Softball B.C. urges provincial health officer to lift ban on gameplay for kids in organized sports

Sporting body sent open letter to both Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix

Surrey RCMP are looking for these two men after a bank in the 12800-block of 96th Avenue was robbed on March 12. (Images: Surrey RCMP)
Police release images of two men suspected of robbing Surrey bank

Robbery happened on March 12 at bank in 12800-block of 96th Avenue

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Robinson Russ, 37, was fatally stabbed on April 4, according to a statement from police. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police name victim following city’s fourth homicide of 2021

Robinson Russ, 37, was fatally stabbed Sunday in the Downtown Eastside

Sunset Manor, an assisted living facility in Chilliwack owned by the Netherlands Reformed Congregation of Chilliwack, pictured here in October 2020, had its third COVID-19 outbreak declared on April 9, 2021. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)
3rd COVID outbreak at care home run by Chilliwack church known for opposing vaccinations

30-bed Sunset Manor owned and operated by Netherlands Reformed Congregation of Chilliwack

A man wears a face mask past the emergency department of the Vancouver General Hospital. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Calls for stricter action in B.C. as COVID-19 variants projected to climb

Jens von Bergmann says the province has taken a ‘wait and see’ approach when early action is needed

Vancouver’s park board general manager issued a new order Friday restricting tents and other temporary structures from being set up in Strathcona Park after April 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver park board issues order to restrict tents in Strathcona Park

The order issued Friday restricted tents and other temporary structures from being set up after April 30

Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning says the players who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 are recovering and the team still intends to play a 56-game season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Canucks players ‘mostly on the other side’ of COVID outbreak: general manager

The athletes have had a “whole range” of COVID-19 symptoms, said team physician Dr. Jim Bovard, but no one has needed to be hospitalized

Police are investigating after a man was shot Thursday, April 8 while sitting in a car in Vancouver. (Black Press files)
Man shot in Vancouver while sitting in a parked car: police

The victim is currently in critical condition. Police say no arrests have been made.

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP is seeking public tips regarding a break-in that left multiple people injured in Vernon Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Cariboo teacher charged in child exploitation case

Charge laid against teacher at Peter Skene Ogden

Most Read