Published on February 25, 2019

May 8, 2017

by Mike Maloney  St. Thomas-Elgin Weekly News

Unable to get an amendment to the government’s Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) legislation passed during committee meetings on the subject, Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek has decided to go it alone and put the issue before the Ontario Legislature.

On May 3, Yurek, who is also the Ontario PC party’s health critic, introduced a private member’s bill that if passed, would amend the government’s MAID legislation to protect the conscience rights of healthcare providers. It would make their participation voluntary, allowing healthcare professionals to refuse directly or indirectly to participate in MAID if it violates their conscience or religious beliefs, without facing discipline from their regulatory college.

“Basically, this private member’s bill is creating protection of conscience rights for healthcare professionals in regards to medical assistance in dying.” Yurek said it would ” dovetail” the current Bill 84 before the government, which creates a self-referral system for those seeking medical assistance in dying.

He noted that other jurisdictions in Canada, such as Alberta and BC, have referral models and protect the conscience rights of healthcare professionals.

Whether Yurek’s bill is likely to pass or not when it comes up for a vote on May 18 is still unknown.

“I know I have the support of my caucus, I know there are a few Liberal backbench MPPs who would be supportive,” noted Yurek. “I don’t know how their party is going to allow them to vote on May 18, but if it’s a free vote then we’ll know what the will of the legislature is.”