OPINION: Delta Hospice board desperate to maintain control

As the good name of the Delta Hospice Society sinks deeper into the mud, there are many aspects of this saga that make you scratch your head, although I can’t get past the incredible irony of it all.

The current board of directors is looking to turn the society into a faith-based organization, claiming that it’s an effort to get back to the roots of hospice. The real reason is that it hopes by being faith-based it will be exempted from Fraser Health’s assisted dying policy and can continue to receive provincial funding, which is scheduled to be cut off early next year.

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The board wants to amend the society’s constitution at a meeting later this month, but it needs membership approval. The only problem is that with a wave of new membership applications, largely made up of those who are supportive of the hospice offering Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), that vote is unlikely to go their way.

So what’s a board that’s backed into a corner and grasping at straws supposed to do? Well, it wholesale rejects applications on the spurious grounds of malicious intent and when challenged, it claims it’s a private society that has the right to do so. Say what?

I’ll let the lawyers figure that out but the ironic part is this board wouldn’t be in place today to make such an inane claim if it weren’t for a similar membership drive last fall that put president Angelina Ireland and like-minded individuals at the helm. Why was it OK for any member of the community to sign up last fall but that basic right no longer applies today? And what’s so subversive about folks like former MLA Vicki Huntington and retired police chief Jim Cessford that their applications had to be rejected along with many others?

It’s clear the group running Delta Hospice now doesn’t have the necessary support to change the secular society into a faith-based one, so it’s making a desperate bid to maintain control. However, Delta Hospice is a community organization that belongs to everyone, and should be open to everyone, not just to a particular segment that holds certain religious beliefs. Present management should feel free to start their own hospice that reflects their values, but they must leave the one the community built alone.

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