Panel Held To Discuss MAID in Faith-Based Facilities


The Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association (RMCLA), along with the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre, hosted a debate this weekend to discuss issues surrounding access to Medical Assisted in Dying (MAID) under religious principles.[1] The panel included legislative assembly members, social workers, professors of philosophy and health ethics, civil liberties association members, lawyers and an academic presenting on behalf of the Catholic community.[2]


Alberta’s Covenant Health (“Covenant Health”) is Canada’s largest Catholic health care provider including 18 facilities, 14,000 staff, physicians and volunteers across Alberta.[3] It was legislatively incorporated into the Alberta Legislature in 2009, under the Covenant Health Act, when it combined multiple publicly-funded, faith-based health care providers.[4]


MAID advocates are concerned that faith-based health institutions are violating the Charter by denying patients access to medically assisted death.[5] Covenant Health prohibits MAID, transferring patients elsewhere “when the time comes”.[6]


Forced transfers for assisted dying are wrong. Allowing facilities to forbid assisted death on their premises is an unfair burden on vulnerable Canadians and their families.”- Dying With Dignity Canada[7]


It was argued that these potential Charter breaches impacts not only those who live in small towns where faith-based healthcare is the only option, but many in Edmonton where Covenant Health operates 90% of all palliative and hospice beds.[8] One RMCLA member wrote that with such a diversity in the Canadian population there should not be an imposition of certain “religious beliefs on people who do not subscribe to that religion”.[9]


Since the 2016 Supreme Court decision, Carter v Canada (AG), that the prohibition of assisted suicide was contrary to Canadian’s Charter Rights, Alberta’s implementation of MAID has been widely considered successful.[10] With the presence of a large Catholic health care provider across the province, around 14% of the those who have accessed this service have been transferred from Covenant Health to a public facility.[11] During the panel discussion, Covenant Health supporters emphasized that their staff take all the appropriate steps to help a “peaceful, expeditious and respectful” transition.[12]


Dying With Dignity Canada has released a petition to pressure provincial leaders to take action, following a transfer gone wrong in a Vancouver hospital this month.[13]



This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the view of the CCLA or PBSC.


[2] ibid

[3] Covenant Health: Presentation to Minister’s Advisory Committee on Health, October, 20, 2009

[4] ibid

[5] ,





[10] ,


[12] ibid