Palliative Care Matters Consensus Development Conference

November 9, 2016

Canadians call for Palliative Care to be enshrined in Health Act: Lay Panel representing Canadians reach consensus at national conference   

After hearing from more than 1,500 Canadians in a national survey and meeting with experts for three days in Ottawa, a citizens’ lay panel has delivered a Consensus Statement, calling for palliative care to be enshrined in the Canada Health Act, woven into the health care system and guaranteed for all Canadians. Led by veteran journalist Don Newman, the panel called for a stronger, integrated approach to home care, allowing Canadians to be supported at home in their final days. 

An Ipsos survey conducted this summer on behalf of the initiative clearly showed that Canadians prefer to die at home, with 90 per cent responding that patients should have the right to receive care in their own home at the end of life and 86 per cent indicating that the public health system should cover the costs of palliative care so everyone can access it as needed.

Co-chaired by Fred Horne, CFN Board Member and former Alberta Minister of Health, and Karen Macmillan, Senior Operating Officer at Covenant Health, the Palliative Care Matters initiative began with listening to Canadians through focus groups and the Ipsos Research survey and it continued with the Consensus Development Conference.

The third and final phase of the initiative will be a report in early 2017 from the Conference Board of Canada which reviews the Consensus Statement and outlines how the recommendations can be implemented.

At the Consensus Development Conference held November 7-9, 2016, in Ottawa, a lay panel heard scientific evidence from an academic expert panel and made several recommendations in their Consensus Statement to improve palliative care in Canada.The panel asserted it is critical palliative care become an insured service under the Canada Health Act, and made 20 specific recommendations, including that:

  • The Canada Health Act be amended to include integrated, palliative home care with portable universal access and support for patients and caregivers, customized to patients’ medical and psycho-social needs;
  • The federal government provide substantial and sustained funding for the development of a national strategy, including capacity building, standards development and monitoring, and research;
  • Every physician in Canada be able to provide basic palliative care and that accrediting and licensing bodies and professional colleges ensure competencies are taught and tested; and
  • A wide-spread public awareness campaign about palliative care support the implementation of a national palliative care strategy.

Specific recommendations for each of the six questions posed to the academic panel may be found in the Consensus Statement