Despite the uproar, Health Minister Adrian Dix doesn’t appear ready to enter the Delta Hospice Society membership controversy.
Dix issued a statement last Friday reiterating that Fraser Health will stop funding the society next February, having provided the required notice to end its service agreement without cause. The decision is final and will not change, but Delta Hospice Society can continue to provide hospice services until then, Dix noted.
The health minister steered clear of the ongoing controversy that has seen the society’s board allegedly stack the membership with supporters while denying membership to many others, including longtime supporters as well as prominent Delta residents such as former MLA Vicki Huntington.
Dix noted anyone concerned about governance issues of the society may have remedies available to them under the Societies Act and should consult a lawyer for advice on options available.
Huntington last week told the Optimist it’s sad what has happened to the society, adding it’s ironic that those now running it were accepted as members but are now trying to shut out everyone else who don’t agree with their religious viewpoints.
“The essence of a democracy is the personal discipline to respect another’s point of view and beliefs. This attitude of the board members, which so ironically are only there because they joined the society, is neither democratic nor respectful. In fact, it smacks of intolerance and disrespect, neither of which have a place in faith or in God’s Golden Rule,” she added.
MLAs Ian Paton and Ravi Kahlon, as well as Mayor George Harvie, also weighed in on the membership controversy.
Noting the community had raised millions to build the Ladner complex, Paton wrote to Dix, “Regrettably, I understand in recent weeks several community members have had their membership applications denied, without explanation. Further, upon being informed of the rejection of their membership application, these individuals were not provided with a reasonable opportunity to make representations to the board of directors.”
He also wrote to Ireland, saying the society must remain open to all citizens, and encouraged disgruntled parties to bring their dispute to the Civil Resolution Tribunal for an independent decision in accordance with the B.C. Societies Act.
Ireland, through her legal counsel, immediately responded, asking Paton on what point of law or which society bylaw his statement was based.
Ireland told the Optimist Delta Hospice is a private society and the board has the right to vet applications, adding it’s been flooded with requests, including from “people who have maliciously and intentionally inundated the society with their memberships.”
She was also critical of Harvie, who last week said, “We cannot let the intolerable actions of the current board go on.”
The issue stems from the board’s refusal to provide Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) with Ireland saying many are concerned that people are going to be forced into euthanasia.