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Outgoing Letters and Public Statements

July 19, 2016

Mr. Elliot Pobjoy, Senior Policy Advisor
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
Minister’s Office – Hepburn Block
10th Floor – 80 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, ON M7A 2C4

Re: Conscience rights of health care providers in Ontario

Dear Mr. Pobjoy,

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is the national association of evangelical Christians, with affiliates including 42 denominations, 65 ministry organizations, 38 post-secondary educational institutions and more than 700 individual congregations.

Many of our affiliates provide end-of-life care in seniors residences and long-term care facilities, as well as hospice care. Many are medical professionals. We have affiliates who provide assistance and care for Ontarians living with disabilities.

We appreciate your government’s commitment to strengthening end-of-life and palliative care, including the significant investment announced in this year’s budget.

However, in light of legislation allowing physician-assisted dying, we are very concerned about the conscience rights of health care providers in Ontario. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario policy on Medical Assistance in Dying, adopted in June 2016, requires physicians to make an effective referral, even if it violates their deeply held beliefs.

Providing a referral facilitates the treatment that follows. It is in effect a professional recommendation for a course of treatment. Many physicians, whether religious or not, consider making a referral for assisted death to be participation in an action that is destructive to the patient. Under the CPSO policy, those who object on the basis of conscience or religious belief will face the choice between following deeply-held religious beliefs or being disciplined by their professional body.

No one should be compelled to participate directly or indirectly in the taking of a human life.

In other jurisdictions, including other provinces, systems and processes have been established that respect patient decisions, as well as protect the conscience rights of practitioners. We strongly urge you to consider alternatives that would accommodate physicians who have a conscientious objection to making an effective referral for medical assistance in dying.


Julia Beazley
Director, Public Policy

Outgoing Letters


EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger writes regular commentaries about public policy issues. The EFC magazine Faith Today often publishes articles and essays that examine such issues.

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