Christian Legal Fellowship to assist Ontario’s highest court in physicians’ conscience case

Christian Legal Fellowship (CLF) has been granted leave to intervene at the Ontario Court of Appeal in Christian Medical and Dental Society et al v College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (“CPSO”). CLF is intervening jointly with The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario (“The Coalition”), advocating for the Charter rights of health care professionals who conscientiously object to participating in procedures such as euthanasia and/or abortion. 

The Coalition’s Factum was filed November 13, 2018 and is available here.

The case concerns regulatory policies which require conscientiously-objecting physicians to take “positive action” to facilitate procedures such as euthanasia and abortion by way of an “effective referral” to another physician willing and available to perform the procedure. The appeal arises from a decision of Ontario’s Divisional Court which upheld the policies; the Court concluded  that, although the policies infringe physicians’ freedom of religion, they are justifiable to the extent that they advance the goal of “ensuring access to health care services in Ontario” (para 162). 

The Coalition’s Factum focuses on religious accommodation, and explains why religious professionals must not be denied the right to full and equal participation in public or vocational life because of their religious identity and ethics. The Factum also explains that attempts to bifurcate moral considerations from "clinical" ones undermines the very idea of professional judgment, which necessarily integrates both elements: “Such integration is foundational to a professional’s integrity, which is a fundamental quality and essential element in all professional relationships” (para 15). 

The Coalition is one of nine intervener groups granted leave to present both written and oral arguments before the Ontario Court of Appeal. The hearing is scheduled for January 21-22, 2019. 

About the interveners

Christian Legal Fellowship is Canada’s national association of Christian legal professionals, drawing from over 30 denominations. 

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada represents over 100 Protestant Evangelical organizations and over 40 denominational groups with approximately 2.1 million members/adherents across Canada.

Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario is the regional association of the Archbishops and Bishops of each of the 14 Catholic Archdioceses and Dioceses which have approximately 3.8 million members across Ontario.

The Coalition jointly intervened before the Ontario Divisional Court, the court of first instance in this litigation. 

Continue Reading

The Coalition’s Factum can be read here

The Divisional Court's decision can be read here