Staff at the Delta Hospice Society’s Irene Thomas facility in Ladner.
Nick Procaylo / PNG
The society that operates Irene Thomas Hospice in Ladner has reversed a decision to allow Medical Assistance in Dying at its facility.The move comes five days after a change in the balance of power at the Delta Hospice Society’s board of directors, and just two weeks after the previous board voted in favour of Medical Assistance in Dying.In a letter provided to staff, volunteers and members dated Dec. 2, new board president Angelina Ireland stated the board had repealed a decision by the previous board to allow MAiD at its Irene Thomas Hospice.This is a controversial decision by the society, which in early 2018 rebelled against Fraser Health’s mandate to provide medical assistance in dying at non-denominational facilities that it funded, instead opting to transfer patients who wanted to receive MAiD to another facility.Hospices are places where individuals go to receive palliative care for pain and symptom management of their life-limiting illnesses. The goal is to offer physical comfort and emotional support at the end of life when dying is a “normal” process.The new Delta Hospice board argues MAiD goes against the society’s constitution.According to Canada Revenue Agency data, the Delta Hospice Society received $1.6 million from Fraser Health to provide 10 beds for people who are dying — average stays are usually two weeks. The society’s total annual revenue last financial year was $3.4 million, of which $2.3 million was spent on compensation. The society had six full-time permanent staff, with the highest earner making between $120,000 and $160,000 a year.According to the CRA, the board comprised of president Jim Levin, vice-president Bob De Ridder, treasurer Karen Gillespie, Christine Sutherland, Doug Mather, Charles Girard, Beverly McCarter, Chris Pettypiece, Melissa Granum and Angelina Ireland.Ireland, Granum and Pettypiece didn’t get voted out at last week’s well-attended AGM, but the rest are gone. Ireland, who was a candidate for the People’s Party of Canada in the October federal election (securing 948 votes) is now the president. Granum and Pettypiece had voted in favour of MAiD.According to a Postmedia News report from February, 2018, faith-based health facilities have been exempted from obligatory MAiD provision but there is a more ambiguous situation with non-denominational settings like the Ladner hospice.In December, 2018, Fraser Health mandated that hospice’s could not transfer a patient to another facility so that they could receive MAiD.The society’s website still states that it allows MAiD.Fraser Health was unable to respond by deadline.with files from Pamela Fayerman Related