A symposium addressing the issues surrounding Medical Assistance in Dying will take place Thursday, April 19, at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre.
The free symposium was organized by former three-term Parksville mayor Paul Reitsma, who will serve as moderator. Speakers will included Dr. David Robinson, lawyer Karen Stewart and Rev. Phil Spencer.
Reitsma said the panel of speakers may address questions ranging across religious, legal, moral and medical implications and consequences.
“The potential divisiveness or splitting up of families created by this process, as well as financial ruining/consequences, the trepidation of abuse and hastening of death for monetary reasons are just some of the concerns,” he added.
Reitsma said he was moved to organize the symposium after a close personal friend, Al Davies, chose to enlist the aid of a physician in terminating his life earlier this year, which “prompted me to start asking questions,” he said.
Robinson has practised in Canada since moving to Newfoundland from the U.K. in 1981, and has worked on Vancouver Island since 2006. Formerly VIHA medical director for community hospitals in Campbell River, Comox, Port Alberni, Duncan and Saanich. Since September 2014 he has served as executive medical director Portfolio 3, which covers the Cowichan Valley, Saanich Peninusla and Southern Gulf Islands as well as Island-wide programs of medical imaging, lab and pharmacy.
Stewart has been a lawyer since 1984 and established her own law firm in Parksville in 1992. She offers legal services primarily in wills and estates, family law, real estate and elder law, and had also been active in the community as a hospice volunteer and board member with Oceanside Hospice Society.
Spencer is an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada who has served at St. Stephen’s United in Qualicum Beach since 1993. He was a registered nurse in his previous career and has a long-held interest in bio-ethics.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the symposium will run from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Guests are welcome to ask questions of the panel directly or pass questions on to the moderator. The speakers will also be available to answer questions immediately afterward, Reitsma added.
Admission is free, though donations are welcome to help offset costs of the hall rental.
— NEWS staff