When it comes to palliative care, Canada can do better

Categories: Policy and Research.

We at the Canadian Cancer Society believe that everyone in Canada with a serious illness like cancer deserves access to affordable, culturally safer, high-quality palliative care no matter where they live in the country and in what setting they choose to receive care.

To that end, CCS has just released a new report, Analyzing Hospice Palliative Care Across Canada: A report on federal, provincial, territorial and community actions, which examines the state of palliative care across the country.

The report includes information collected from 12 provinces and territories, 4 departments of the federal government and 13 community organizations. The report provides a comparison of palliative care across jurisdictions to identify progress made, enablers and best practices, but also the barriers and gaps in care. It’s the first time a report like this has been published since 2017.

The report also includes a count of hospice beds available across the country, data not previously available.

The report shows that governments, despite their efforts, are falling short of accomplishing their goals for palliative care.

By our count, Canada has just over half the hospice beds we need to provide adequate access to palliative care services. Moreover, there are significant challenges in ensuring we have the health human resources needed to provide care. And we don’t have the data we need to assess who is – and who isn’t – receiving the palliative care they need, much less if it is the care they want.

We prepared this report because Health Canada is due to report back to Parliament on their Framework on Palliative Care in Canada in December 2023.

We hope the Government of Canada will see our report – and theirs – as an opportunity to update its Framework and Action Plan for palliative care. We encourage the Government of Canada to take this report and put it to good use since some of our society’s most vulnerable are going without the basic right everyone should be afforded; palliative care that provides comfort, dignity and choice.

Click here to read the report. If you have any questions about the report and its findings, please contact daniel.nowoselski@cancer.ca.

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