The Manitoba government says it will not force faith-based hospitals to provide medical assistance in dying, but they will be required to refer patients seeking the service to another hospital.

In late May, the board of St. Boniface Hospital voted to amend its policy to allow rare cases of medically assisted dying.

But the Catholic Health Corporation of Manitoba (CHCM) ordered a review of the decision after adding 10 new directors to the board, and the amendment was overturned. The CEO of the CHCM, Daniel Lussier, says the decision to add the members to the boards was done to protect the integrity of the organization. 

Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen says the government respects the decisions of medical professionals and health care facilities to not provide medical assistance in dying.

Dr. Hendrik van der Breggen is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Providence University College. He says he's pleased with the decision. "The right of medical staff to conscientious moral objection and the right of faith-based institutions to hold to their mission of life-saving and healing are important."

Van der Breggen feels that the current discussion in public around MAID "suggests comfort care at the end of life, but in actuality refers to doctors and nurses directly killing patients. Surely, doctors and nurses and hospitals—people and places dedicated to life-saving and healing—should be free to object and not participate in the practice of killing."

When asked about how faith communities might engage in what is a difficult conversation and topic, van der Breggen says that using a collective voice for funding and access is important. "I think that we should encourage a culture of life wherein palliative care (which can manage physical pain 90-95% of the time) and social supports (for the sufferers and their care-givers) are better funded and more accessible across Canada. (In those few unmanageable cases, there is palliative sedation, which allows the patient to die comfortably without directly killing him or her.)"