In the wake of the legalization of assisted suicide in Canada, faith groups are calling the government to strengthen palliative care programs.
Today, representatives from various faith communities united to issue a joint call to Canada’s elected officials to support a robust, well-resourced, national palliative care strategy and to raise awareness of inadequacies in palliative care, particularly in the wake of the debate over Physician-Assisted Dying/Suicide.
In addition to issuing an Interfaith Statement on Palliative Care, the organizations reaffirmed that compassion is a foundational element of Canadian identity that should directly shape Canadian public policy when it comes to end-of-life issues. The spokespersons warned that assisted dying/suicide must not become a default choice for those struggling with terminal illnesses, and that it is a national imperative to enhance access to and the quality of palliative care.
“The need for quality, widely accessible palliative care should be one of the most pressing concerns of our country,” said the Most Reverend Noël Simard, Bishop of Valleyfield, on behalf of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Faith communities, along with health care workers, have for centuries stood by the bedsides of the dying to comfort and protect, to heal and console. Today, as faith leaders, we recommit ourselves to this sacred task of providing the spiritual care so essential to palliative care.”
“People at the end of life need our care and tangible expressions of love. Palliative care alleviates the suffering of those nearing the end of life, yet, lamentably, it is not accessible to everyone,” said Julia Beazley, of The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. “As faith communities and as Canadians, we must commit to making high-quality palliative care available to all.”
“Preserving human dignity and providing comfort to the most vulnerable among us are core Canadian values that transcend faith communities,” said Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA). “In light of Canada’s aging population, there is a pressing need to improve access to high-quality palliative care, which can make a world of difference in the well-being of patients – and their families – entering the final stages of life.”
“It is our duty to care for one other and offer assistance in times of need,” said Imam Sikander of the Canadian Council of Imams. “Fortunately, many Canadians take this responsibility very seriously. We must ensure though that the ill and dying are not left out of our care and compassion. Every life is worth living and saving. Let us come together to enhance and cherish life.”
About Interfaith Communities for Improved Palliative Care
Our traditions instruct that there is meaning and purpose in supporting people at the end of life. Visiting those who are sick, and caring for those who are dying, are core tenets of our respective faiths and reflect our shared values as Canadians.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops www.cccb.ca is the national assembly of the Catholic Bishops of Canada. It was founded in 1943 and officially recognized by the Holy See in 1948. After the Second Vatican Council (1962–65), it became part of a worldwide network of Episcopal Conferences, established in 1965, as an integral part of the life of the universal Church.
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada www.theEFC.ca is the national association of evangelical Christians uniting Evangelicals to bless Canada in the name of Jesus. Since 1964 the EFC has provided a national forum for Canada’s four million Evangelicals, fostered ministry partnerships, conducted research on religious and social trends and provided a constructive voice for biblical principles in life and society. In addition to 42 evangelical denominations, the EFC affiliates include 65 ministry organizations, 38 educational institutions and more than 700 individual congregations, who uphold a common statement of faith. The EFC is an active participant in the World Evangelical Alliance.
As the advocacy agent of the Jewish Federations of Canada, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs(CIJA) www.cija.ca is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of Jewish life in Canada by advancing the public policy interests of Canada’s organized Jewish community.
The Canadian Council of Imams www.canadiancouncilofimams.com is a collective leadership of Imams (Ministers of Religion) in Canada. Established in 1990, the Council has been serving the Canadian Muslim communities throughout the nation in different capacities as well as acting as a unifying platform for the Imams and chaplains and being a resource centre for many of them. Through monthly meetings, press releases, seminars and conferences the council has succeeded in bringing most of the Imams together and unite them on many issues. The council has deliberated over many issues affecting the community and put forward some solutions. At the same time it filled a vacuum with the Government and it has become the principle liaison with Federal, Ontario Provincial and Toronto Municipal Governments.