Health Canada Published Report on the State of Palliative Care in Canada

Categories: Featured and Policy.

On December 15, 2023, Health Canada published The Framework on Palliative Care in Canada – Five Years Later: A Report on the State of Palliative Care in Canada. In this publication, Health Canada reports on the progress made over the last five years on the goals and priorities outlined in the Framework on Palliative Care in Canada. 

Preceded by the Act providing for the development of a framework on palliative care in Canada, the Framework on Palliative Care in Canada, developed by Health Canada in 2018, set out the collective vision for palliative care in Canada: that all Canadians with life-limiting illnesses live well until the end of life. 

Health Canada’s new report notes that positive strides occurred in many areas, including the availability of palliative care education and training for health care professionals, awareness and uptake of advance care planning, and improvements in leave benefits for caregivers. While there has been progress across all four goals the Framework describes, the report underscores the need for continued collective action to ensure that the Framework’s long-term goals can be achieved in the next 5 years. 

The report also reaffirms Health Canada’s commitment to supporting projects and initiatives that progress many facets of palliative care in Canada, including: 

  • Continuing its multi-year palliative care awareness campaign. 
  • Continuing to support health care provider and caregiver education, adding new disciplines to the Interdisciplinary Competency Framework, and including it in more education programs and employment standards, and supporting education to strengthen provider communication skills. 
  • Continue collaborating with governments and partners, especially on growing the Compassionate Communities movement and on improved community and home-based palliative care. 
  • Expanding research networks to build research capacity, moving toward data standardization across jurisdictions including common indicators and better data on palliative care provision and outcomes. 
  • Developing policy frameworks to reflect the distinct end-of-life care needs of Indigenous Peoples, creating resources that address the specific needs of under-served populations, and scaling models of care for persons living with homelessness. 

In the report, Health Canada states that funding for home and community care, which includes palliative care will be integrated into the new Aging with Dignity bilateral agreements with provincial and territorial governments. In these agreements, CHPCA and the Palliative Care Coalition of Canada (PCCC) hope to see the specific needs in pediatric palliative care as well as palliative care for younger adults addressed specifically, to ensure that Canadians of all ages can have equitable access to palliative care. 

As tireless advocates for access to quality hospice palliative care for all Canadians, and as members of the PCCC, CHPCA looks forward to collaborating with Health Canada, leaders in palliative care in Canada, and other members of the Coalition to identify the specific actions that these stakeholders should pursue to ensure that the goals of the Framework are achieved. 

To view the full Health Canada report, click here. 

To view the Palliative Care Coalition of Canada’s full response to the report, click here.

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