November 29, 2022

RE: Medical Assistance in Dying – General Consultation

The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) is pleased to provide this submission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) regarding the general consultation on Medical Assistance in Dying and the proposed revisions of the current euthanasia/assisted suicide policy.

We strongly advocate for the protection of the Charter right of freedom of conscience and religion for all Canadians, including physicians and health care professionals, in the daily routine of the provision of care and healing to patients.  That freedom is at the core of many individual medical practices, and provides real diversity from a compelled narrative so contrary to Hippocratic principles.

The CCRL rejected and continues to reject the compulsion for a physician opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide to make an effective referral to one who will carry out the objectionable act. It is wrong to compel someone to do wrong in their practices.

The League notes that in CMDS et al v. CPSO the court acknowledged the infringement of physicians’ freedom of religion in its decision and further accepted work arounds as a reasonable means of balancing the rights of patients with the rights of objecting physicians.

The CCRL submits that the proposed revisions in line 333 under the question, “Does the expectation to provide patients with an effective referral apply in faith-based hospitals and hospices?” and in 339, “Can I end the physician-patient relationship because my patient wishes to explore a care option that conflicts with my conscience or religious beliefs?” need to be addressed with an overriding concern that a patient’s demand should not trump the freedom of religion of the physician, or the institutional freedom of religion of a religious hospital.

The CCRL believes that the continuance of historically recognized allowances, or work arounds that facilitate religious objection, should be maintained as part of our social fabric, and in recognition of the authentic pluralism of a free and democratic society.  A forced compulsion over such rights is the negation of a truly authentic pluralist society.

With this submission, we at the CCRL sincerely hope that any revisions to the current euthanasia and assisted suicide regime does not compel Catholic hospitals to violate their core belief in the sanctity of human life, from conception until natural death, which has been a consistent life ethic for the hundreds of years of their operation in Ontario.  It is not the time to trample on that rich history of care and concern with a radical exaggeration of the notion of autonomy at every institution providing health care.

The acceptance of abortion, or euthanasia, soon to be provided for those with mental illness, should not be allowed to undermine the charism of Catholic hospitals.  That was not the intended effect of such changes to the law.  The people of Ontario, whether of faith or no faith, have not turned against Catholic hospitals with such a fierce intolerance.

Recognition of religious differences adds to the social fabric of our society.  It is at the core of a true pluralist and diverse population agreeing to disagree at times, always respectful of differences.  Differences of opinion on moral judgments should not be trivialized by rejecting such differences in favour of the bully in the room.

We appeal to any of you who are able to send a donation to the CCRL by clicking here or by mailing a cheque to the CCRL at 2305 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON, M6S 1P1, or by calling the office at (416) 466-8244 or 1-844-722-CCRL.

About the CCRL

Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) ( assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. The CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization with a large nationwide membership base. The CCRL is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.

To donate to the CCRL, please click here.

For further information:

Christian Domenic Elia, PhD
CCRL Executive Director