That’s how Delta Hospice Society president Angelina Ireland describes Delta’s mayor urging Premier John Horgan to “take whatever steps you can” to ensure money raised through the society’s thrift shop goes to support the Irene Thomas Hospice.
In a letter dated April 13 and published on the city’s website April 19, Delta Mayor George Harvie stated the Hospice Cottage Charity Shoppe, located at 1521 56th St. in Tsawwassen and valued at nearly $3 million, was created using community funds for the purpose of generating income to support services at the hospice.
Instead, Harvie said, revenue generated by the shop is being used by the society under its current board to support a national “1-800” palliative care help line.
“The Delta Hospice Society does not represent the interests of the Delta community,” Harvie wrote, adding DHS’s board has been actively recruiting members who are sympathetic to their religious and pro-life beliefs.
“Of the 13,518 voting members, only 2,919 are from Delta. The rest are from other parts of Canada or outside the country,” he wrote.
Harvie urged Horgan to “take whatever steps you can to ensure that thrift store assets and revenue are restored to the Irene Thomas Hospice as originally intended by the Delta community.”
In a response emailed to the Reporter on Friday (April 22), Ireland refuted Harvie’s claims the DHS does not represent the interests of the community, saying the society is a private organization funded by its membership and committed, both locally and nationally, “to providing traditional palliative care advice and supports for all Canadians, coast to coast.”
Ireland said proceeds from the thrift shop support the society’s operations and the local community’s need for “traditional palliative guidance,” which the DHS also makes available to people across the country.
“Traditional palliative care knows no boundaries,” Ireland wrote.
Revenue from the store has also supported the launch and operation of the Delta Cares Helpline, which provides free 60-minute counselling sessions and practical advice for individuals and families struggling with difficult end-of-life circumstances or bereavement, according to the society’s website.
Harvie’s letter was prompted by the results of the DHS’s AGM on April 2, where members of the society voted in support of constitutional and bylaw amendments formally rejecting medical assistance in dying (MAiD) and committing to “a traditional understanding of the principles of palliative care.”
“One wonders why the democratically elected Mayor Harvie will not recognize our private organization’s democratic process and the overwhelming results of our annual general meeting, which saw a super-majority of 76 per cent of members vote for traditional palliative care,” Ireland said in her email to the Reporter.
“Further, the mayor urging Premier Horgan to take ‘whatever steps you can’ is chilling and should cause concern for all private organizations and businesses.”
Ireland continued: “Any further actions by any level of government towards our Canadian, CRA-registered charitable organization would constitute bullying at best, and outright theft at worst, as we saw with our previous assets.”
On March 29, 2021, the society lost control of the Irene Thomas Hospice and neighbouring Harold and Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care, one year after Fraser Health announced it would end the DHS’s service agreement and lease due to the board’s refusal to allow MAiD at the hospice.
Ireland said the society’s views are aligned with those of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association and the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians, who in a joint call to action published Nov. 27, 2019, stated that palliative care and MAiD are “two fundamentally different practices.”
“MAiD is not part of hospice palliative care; it is not an ‘extension’ of palliative care nor is it one of the tools ‘in the palliative care basket.’ National and international hospice palliative care organizations are unified in the position that MAiD is not part of the practice of hospice palliative care,” the call to action states.
Ireland said it is the society’s right as a privately-funded organization to “affirm this classic principle of palliative care that is accepted world-wide.”