Saturday, November 9, 2019

Alberta debates conscience rights protection bill 207.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


The Alberta Legislature had first reading on Conscience Rights (Health care Providers) Protection Act, Bill 207 on November 7, a private members bill that is sponsored by MLA Dan Williams, a backbench government member from Peace River.
Sign the petition: I support the Conscience Rights Health Care Protections Act, Bill 207. (Link).
Bill 207 seeks to protect the conscience rights for health care providers and organizations. The bill states:
Conscience-based objection to provision of health care service 
If a health care provider or religious health care organization determines that their conscientious beliefs would be infringed by providing a specific health care service to an individual, the health care provider or religious health care organization is not required to provide that health care service to the individual.
Dan Williams MLA
1. Bill 207 protects health care providers conscience rights in general.

2. Bill 207 protects health care providers from being penalized for being a conscientious objector.
3. In a pluralistic society, conscience rights ensure that everyone has equal protection.

An article by Shaughn Butts for postmedia news quoted Williams as stating that Bill 207 protects health care providers but it does not limit access to legal healthcare services. Butts reported:
“Health care providers should never have to choose between their most deeply held beliefs and their job,” 
“Let me be clear, this bill not only protects freedom of conscience, but it also in no way limits access to health care services in the province”
Butts reported that the bill amends the Alberta Human Rights Act to protect conscientious beliefs as a basis for protection from discrimination or refusal for employment.

Bill 207 passed its first vote, on November 7, along party lines with 36 UCP members voting in favour of the bill while the 15 NDP opposition members voting against the bill. 

The bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Private Bills and Private Members' Public Bills.

2 comments:

Maylane L. Wong said...

To MLA Dan Williams: you have hit the mark by sponsoring Bill 207 which will protect the conscience rights of health care professionals, without infringing on the needs of patients. I pray that Bill 207 receives bipartisan support in the Alberta Legislature. Thank you from two health care professionals in Saskatchewan: my husband who is a family physician still in practice, and myself a retired pharmacist. We believe - as our constitution states - that conscience rights are worth protecting for the good of our nation.

Paul Anderson said...

I hope Mr. Williams succeeds with Bill 207. One would think that such a clear affirmation of a constitutional right would pass without opposition. Hopefully the passing of Bill 207 into provincial law in Alberta will set a precedent to be followed in all of Canada's provinces and territories.

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