Important Message: CCCB Statement on Conscience Rights related to Bill C-14

Posted on: April 25th, 2016

For the information of our faithful, the following statement was authorized by Bishop Douglas Crosby, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), regarding Bill C-14, entitled An Act to Amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying).

The Church today faces immense pastoral challenges with the upcoming federal legislation on physician-assisted suicide. As a result, dioceses and eparchies across Canada are working together to consolidate efforts to protect vulnerable persons and the conscience rights of healthcare practitioners and institutions by collaborating with the Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience.

In view of the draft federal legislation tabled in the House of Commons, it is urgent not only to inform federal and provincial/territorial legislators of the concerns, but also to articulate an approach that respects both the sanctity of live and the conscience rights of healthcare workers and institutions faced with a patient's choice for assisted suicide.

The following website enables individuals to indicate their support for the proposal and write to appropriate officials in the federal government and in each province or territory regarding the plans to protect conscience rights:

His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins has been particularly engaged on behalf of the Coalition in extensive meetings over the past weeks with federal and Ontario politicians. The Coalition comprises the Archdiocese of Toronto, Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians' Societies, Catholic Health Alliance of Canada, Catholic Organization for Life and Family, Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada, and Canadian Physicians for Life.
With the tabling of Bill C-14 in the House of Commons, entitled An Act to Amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying), there will be approximately five weeks for Parliament to debate and pass legislation on this issue before the members leave on their summer break, according to the current Parliamentary timetable. For more information:
Click on the link to access the bilingual text of the draft bill (
Questions and answers by the Department of Justice on the Bill:

An ecumenical and interfaith news conference was to be held at the National Press Gallery in Ottawa this coming April 19, focusing on the protection of vulnerable persons and the conscience rights of healthcare workers and institutions, together with the need for better palliative care. Those participating in the news conference included His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins (on behalf of the CCCB and the Coalition); Mr. Bruce Clemenger, president, Evangelical Federation of Canada; Imam Sikander Hashmi, Canadian Council of Imams, Commissioner Machzikei Hadas, Ottawa; and a French-speaking panelist with background in palliative care.

In addition, at the request of the CCCB, the Canada Council of Churches has agreed that the May meeting of its Governing Board will include a special presentation on protecting the conscience rights of those individuals and institutions refusing to be involved in euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Let us continue to keep praying for the dying and vulnerable as this legislation moves forward.

God bless

Bishop David

CCCB Statement on Bill C-14

Additional related information

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