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Respect Religious Hospitals' Conscience Rights, Say Canadians

58% of Canadians say religiously affiliated hospitals shouldn’t be forced to provide MAiD


October 17, 2023

OTTAWA, ON – Almost six in 10 Canadians agree that a religiously affiliated health-care facility should not have to provide euthanasia and assisted suicide to its patients. Rather, 58% of Canadians agree such facilities should be able to continue what they’ve largely been doing already: transferring patients to facilities that do not object to participating in or causing the death of someone in their care. That finding comes from a public opinion survey by the Angus Reid Institute in partnership with Cardus.

The same poll also found:

  • Strong majorities in every province save Quebec agreed that religiously affiliated health-care facilities should not be forced to provide euthanasia and assisted suicide.
  • Support for religiously affiliated health-care facilities’ freedom of conscience cuts across all religious outlooks.
  • 61% of Christians, 56% of followers of other religions, and 54% of atheists, agnostics and non-religious Canadians agree such facilities should be able to opt out of “medically assisted death.”

“Freedom of conscience is a fundamental freedom, which is constitutionally protected in Canada,” says Rev. Dr. Andrew Bennett, Faith Communities Program Director at Cardus. “We must remain vigilant to protect and nurture our fundamental freedoms regardless of what the law says about euthanasia and assisted suicide.”

The poll found Canadians were less robust in their support of freedom of conscience for individual doctors or other medical professionals. Fully 70% of Canadians agreed that medical professionals who believe euthanasia and assisted suicide to be morally wrong should still have to provide a patient with a referral to another professional willing to provide a “medically assisted death.” Many medical professionals conscientiously object to providing such referrals, believing it would be immoral to facilitate a patient’s death at the hands of someone else.

“There is still much work to do in helping professional associations, governments, courts, and all Canadians understand the gravity of freedom of conscience and the moral hazard doctors face when they’re forced to participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide via referral,” says Rev. Dr. Bennett.

The survey was conducted September 19-22, 2023 among a representative randomized sample of 1,872 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.


Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus – Director of Communications

Jon Roe
Angus Reid Institute – Research Associate

Cardus – Imagination toward a thriving society
Cardus is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society’s institutions can work together for the common good.