Conscience Rights on Physician-Assisted Death Split Canadians

About two-in-five Canadians would allow health care professionals to object to providing abortion services.

Vancouver, BC [February 26, 2020] – While practically half of Canadians are not in favour of legislative action that would entrench conscience rights for health care workers, the country is evenly divided when assessing cases of physician-assisted death, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample, 44% of Canadians agree that health care professionals should have the ability to object to providing services if they have a moral or faith-based objection to physician-assisted death. A similar proportion of Canadians (42%) disagree with this stipulation.

Alberta—where public debate over Bill 207 intensified late last year—has the lowest proportion of residents who would agree to entrench conscience rights in cases of physician-assisted death (38%).

The level of support for a caveat for health care professionals on physician-assisted suicide cases is highest in British Columbia (48%), followed by Quebec (47%), Atlantic Canada (46%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (46%) and Ontario (41%).

When asked about conscience rights on two other instances, Canadians are not as divided. Practically half (49%) disagree with health care professionals objecting to provide services if they have a moral or faith-based objection to abortion, while 39% agree.

A majority of Canadians (58%) disagree with health care professionals objecting to provide services if they have a moral or faith-based objection to serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, gender diverse, queer and Two-Spirit (LGBTQ2+) people, while 31% agree.

“Canadians who profess a religion are more likely to extend the ability for health care professionals to have moral or faith-based objections in cases of physician-assisted suicide (52%), abortion (46%) and serving LGBT people (37%),” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “The level of support is considerably lower among Canadians who have no religious affiliation (28%, 24% and 18% respectively).”

Across the country, 49% of Canadians say that they would oppose a bill that sought to allow health care professionals the ability to have a moral or faith-based objection to providing services, while 39% would support this provincial legislation.

Opposition to this type of bill is highest in Alberta (59%), followed by Atlantic Canada (53%), British Columbia (51%), Ontario (49%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (45%) and Quebec (42%).  

Methodology:

Results are based on an online study conducted from February 14 to February 17, 2020, among 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in Canada. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.1 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

Find our full dataset here and download the press release here.

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.
[c] 778.929.0490
[e] mario.canseco@researchco.ca