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Another legal setback for Delta Hospice board

B.C. Court of Appeal this week issues decision against society
hospice thrift store
The Charity Shoppe on 56th Street in Tsawwassen. Delta Optimist

The assets of the Delta Hospice Society are at stake.

That’s according to the group Take Back Delta Hospice, raising concern about the future of the organization’s services following another court ruling against the Hospice Society's board.

The B.C. Court of Appeal earlier this week denied the board’s request for a stay of proceedings while the board seeks leave to appeal a recent judgment against it to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The B.C. Court of Appeal last month dismissed an appeal by the board, which was attempting to block membership applications to the society.

This week’s decision further strengthens the efforts of Take Back Delta Hospice, said the group’s Chris Pettypiece.

“In his decision on Dec. 8th, Mr. Justice Harris made it abundantly clear that the proposed application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada has no prospect of success,” said Pettypiece in a news release sent to the Optimist.

Pettypiece went on to say the society will lose its provincial funding and now the City of Delta has revoked the society’s permissive tax exemption status for its thrift store in Tsawwassen, causing a further approximate $24,000 annual impact to operations.

“We believe there is a total loss of confidence across our community regarding the current board’s prioritization of patient care and services,” Pettypiece said.

The assets of the society are now at stake, including operations of the Harold and Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care which provides essential palliative, grief and bereavement services, not funded under provincial health care services, he added.

The thrift store generates income that must be preserved for services, said Pettypiece, noting local residents who donate and purchase from the shop do so with the belief it will benefit the community, not to pay legal bills and taxes.

The board earlier this year filed the appeal to overturn a petition to the B.C. Supreme Court which successfully halted a planned meeting by the board to have the society’s constitution amended to be Christian-based.

That petition by Pettypiece, Sharon Farrish and former board president Jim Levin followed the current DHS leadership rejecting many society membership applications by Delta residents opposed to the board’s actions.

The board and its president Angelina Ireland are opposed to providing the legal procedure medical assistance in dying (MAiD) at the hospice, overturning a decision by the previous board to provide it.

Fraser Health president and CEO Dr. Victoria Lee earlier this year wrote a letter to Delta Mayor George Harvie responding to concerns he raised to the health authority, asking for an inspection and audit of the hospice facility.

“Investigations to date have confirmed that the quality of care provided to the residents continues to be upheld by the dedicated staff working at the hospice, and no concerns regarding the care have been identified. While we have not audited the Delta Hospice Society's finances, we have no indication that funding is not being utilized as per the Service Agreement,” Lee explained.

Fraser Health several weeks ago said it found no problems with the society’s books and no grounds for additional independent audits.

In another letter to Harvie and city council, Lee said health region staff reviewed the society’s most recent financial reports, including a review conducted by an independent firm, and identified no financial concerns.

There are no grounds to warrant an additional independent audit at this time, but the region will continue to monitor the delivery of services and financial reporting for any irregularities, she said.