Campaign launched to ask province to protect conscience rights of health care workers

Protecting conscience rights in Saskatchewan

With the passing of euthanasia/assisted suicide legislation in Canada, provinces are now implementing local protocols. We are encouraging all those concerned about this issue to respectfully contact the Saskatchewan Minister of Health and MLAs and ask for conscience protection for health care professionals.

Parishes across the province were offering opportunities to sign letters to provincial politicians on the Feb 23-24, 2019 weekend, or submit letters electronically, via

Knights of Columbus members Andy Elder, Murray Geenen, Gerald Wiegers (back, l-r) John Cook, Omer Giasson and Louis Roth (front, l-r) are among those in the province working to compile thousands of letters to the provincial government from across Saskatchewan. The letters are asking for provincial legislation to protect the conscience rights of health care providers who are unable to participate in physician assisted suicide or euthanasia. (Similar legislation was recently passed in Manitoba.)  – Photo by Kiply Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News


Conscience protection is in place in every other country worldwide that allows euthanasia, but not in Canada. 

View a video about the issue at:

Background info from Coaltion for HealthCARE and Conscience:

The Problem: Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) is a controversial procedure that has been permitted by the Supreme Court of Canada and Parliament. It involves directly ending a patient’s life by lethal injection. Some caregivers believe that it is morally acceptable to end the life of a patient upon request, while others do not. Some go further and believe that all caregivers must help willing patients to end their lives prematurely. In Ontario, medical regulators require physicians to provide an “effective referral”. If physicians are unable to do so because of their conscience, they are advised to restrict their practices to sleep medicine, obesity medicine and hair loss medicine.

The Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience represents more than 110 healthcare facilities (with almost 18,000 care beds and 60,000 staff) and more than 5,000 physicians across Canada.

Members come from diverse perspectives, but all agree that taking a patient’s life or referring for this procedure violates at least one of the following:

  • The Hippocratic Oath;
  • Our religious convictions;
  • Our mission and values;
  • Our professional ethics;
  • Our creed; or,
  • Our deeply held conviction that healthcare should heal people, not hasten death.

This position is supported by Evangelical Christian, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Jewish theologians and moral authorities.

The right to freedom of conscience and religion is enshrined in Section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Our right to protection against discrimination is enshrined in Section 15.

Jurisdictions outside of Canada that allow assisted suicide or euthanasia do not require doctors to make an effective referral. Many other provinces, such as Alberta, have adopted alternatives for patient access, such as a care coordination system.

In November 2017, the Manitoba legislature passed legislation which protects the conscience rights of doctors, nurses, and pharmacists by ensuring that no healthcare professional can be required to provide or aid in the provision of MAID. In addition, it states that their professional regulatory bodies must not make policies requiring them to provide or aid in the provision of MAID, nor discipline their members based on those policies.

The Saskatchewan government has the opportunity to protect the conscience rights of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other medical professionals by passing legislation to protect healthcare professionals from being forced to participate in or refer for medical assistance in dying. Conscientious objectors need to be able to continue to care for their patients.

Coalition for Conscience SK 2018 info sheet