Palliative care in critical condition: Canadian Cancer Society report

Federal and provincial governments need to guarantee access to palliative care in legislation, the Canadian Cancer Society said Tuesday as it released a report on the state of care across the country.

OTTAWA — Federal and provincial governments need to guarantee access to palliative care in legislation, the Canadian Cancer Society said Tuesday as it released a report on the state of care across the country.

In its findings, the society said critically ill patients are falling through the cracks of the health care system and improvements are needed to address the patchwork of service that exists.

In the absence of national standards, individual jurisdictions are left to develop their own policies, programs and guidelines that result in inconsistent and inadequate palliative care, the report said.

Canada must reform its approach to palliative care, according to the society’s public issues director Gabriel Miller.

“We haven’t, as a country, guaranteed this as part of what Canadians have a right to expect from their health care system,” he said.

“We haven’t developed the standards or the data collection we need to make sure it is being provided properly and we haven’t made the targeted investments to make sure that people can get the right kind of care where they need it.

“It is absolutely now that governments have to take action to fix that.”

Fixing palliative care must be at the top of the to-do list for the federal and provincial governments as work begins on a new health accord, Miller noted.

A health ministers meeting is scheduled for later this month in Vancouver.

“For the first time in a decade, federal and provincial governments are going to sit down and hammer out a new vision for health care in this country,” he said.

“If that vision doesn’t fix what is wrong with palliative care, it will be a failure. This is a critical test for a transformative health care agenda — whether it is going to do a better job and a more sustainable job of caring for the sickest and most vulnerable citizens and providing them better care especially outside of hospitals.”

In an interview with The Canadian Press last month, Health Minister Jane Philpott acknowledged palliative care is inadequate for many patients.

“There is some evidence that only 15 per cent of Canadians have access to high-quality palliative care when they need it,” said Philpott, who spent 30 years working as a doctor in Canada and abroad before becoming a politician.

“That’s unacceptable and we are committed to doing better.”

The health care system needs to be reformed to reflect the demand for care as close to home as possible, Philpott added.

“I think where we are really going to see movement in terms of that system transformation is through my discussions with my provincial and territorial counterparts to make sure that we look at best practices and look at the best models that have been put in place across the country.”

During the election campaign, the Liberals promised to spend $3 billion over the next four years to improve access to home care, including supports for family care and palliative care and to make the existing compassionate care benefit more flexible.

The issue of palliative care was flagged last month in a 134-page report provided to Philpott and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould by a panel commissioned following last winter’s high court ruling on doctor-assisted death.

The Supreme Court of Canada is considering whether to grant the federal government six additional months to respond to its landmark ruling that recognized the right of consenting adults enduring intolerable physical or mental suffering to end their lives with a doctor’s help.

Just Posted

Trains no longer blow leading up to the controlled crossing at 49th Avenue in Innisfail. (Photo contributed by the Town of Innisfail)
Innisfail says goodbye to train whistles

Whistles eliminated at four crossings

Red Deer College has been upgrading roofing, mechanical control systems, and lighting with $13 million in capital maintenance funding from the province. (Photo by Advocate staff)
$13 million in maintenance work underway at Red Deer College

Projects improve teaching, learning, and working spaces

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waits to take his seat at the EU-Canada Summit Monday June 14, 2021 in Brussels, Belgium. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau to visit Pfizer on final day of international pandemic trip, begin quarantine

WTO looks at making it easier for developing countries to import expertise, equipment and ingredients for vaccines

Houses under construction in Toronto on Friday, June 26, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CMHC says annual pace of housing starts rose 3.2 per cent in May compared with April

Starts for apartments, condos and other multiple-unit housing projects rose

FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2013 file photo, customers leave an IKEA store in Plaisir, west of Paris. A French court has ordered home furnishings giant Ikea to pay more than $1.2 million in fines and damages Tuesday, June 15, 2021 over a campaign to spy on union representatives. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere, FIle)
Ikea fined $1.3 million over spying campaign in France

Convicted of receiving personal data obtained through fraudulent means in a habitual way

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Opinion
Opinion: Governments should come together to collaborate paid sick leave in Canada

If we let our guard down, COVID-19 is highly transmissible and will… Continue reading

Finnish players celebrate with their fans after the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Denmark, Saturday, June 12, 2021. Finland won 1-0. (Friedemann Vogel/Pool via AP)
Finland plays Russia with Euro 2020 knockout stage in reach

Finns played in their first ever game at a major soccer tournament

Scotland’s Allan Dell (1) is tackled by Canada’s Matt Heaton (7) and Lucas Rumball (6) during first half action of men’s international rugby in Edmonton, Alta., on June 9, 2018. Heaton, of Rugby ATL, Ben LeSage and Lucas Rumball, both of the Toronto Arrows, will co-captain Canada next month for rugby test matches in Wales and England. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canada names 30-man roster for July rugby internationals against Wales, England

July test marks the first games for Canadian men since October 2019 at the Rugby World Cup

Montreal’s Deanna Bowen, seen in an undated handout photo, has won the $50,000 annual Scotiabank Photography Award. Award organizers say Bowen’s family history has been a central part of her work since the early 1990s. She’s descended from Alabama and Kentucky-born Black Prairie pioneer families from the central Alberta communities of Amber Valley and Campsie. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Courtesy of the artist
Montreal’s Deanna Bowen wins $50,000 Scotiabank Photography Award

Bowen to receive solo exhibition at 2022 Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival

Treena Mielke
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) blocks a shot by Vegas Golden Knights left wing William Carrier (28) during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday in Las Vegas. (Photo by The Associated Press)
Canadiens take 4-1 loss to Vegas Golden Knights in Stanley Cup semifinal opener

Golden Knights 4 Canadiens 1 (Las Vegas leads series 1-0) LAS VEGAS… Continue reading

Philadelphia 76ers' coach Doc Rivers yells to his players during the first half of Game 4 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks, Monday, June 14, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Young leads Hawks’ rally past Sixers with Embiid hurting

Hawks 103 76ers 100 ATLANTA — Trae Young overcame a cold start… Continue reading

Most Read