National Hospice Palliative Care Week


Senator Statement Senator Jane Cordy May 8th, 2014

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, this week, May 4 to May 10, is National Hospice Palliative Care Week. End-of-life care is an issue that affects all, whether it is a family member, a loved one or even planning for our own end-of-life preferences. End of life can be a stressful time, which can bring additional hardships to the patient, their family and caregivers.

It is important today to recognize our former colleague Senator Sharon Carstairs for the incredible work she has done and continues to do for end-of-life care in Canada.

Hospice palliative care programs provide patients with more control over their lives in their final days, helps them to manage pain and symptoms more effectively, and provides support for family and caregivers.

Only 30 per cent of Canadians requiring end-of-life care currently have access to or receive palliative hospice care and end-of-life care services. Unfortunately, access to these services relies heavily on where they live in Canada.

Statistics Canada estimates that by the year 2020 there will be 33 per cent more deaths in Canada each year. The number of Canadians requiring end-of-life care is increasing drastically and the palliative care system will continue to strain under this increased demand.

National Hospice Palliative Care Week is a good time to engage Canadians about end-of-life care issues and work toward improving access to quality of life care. It is estimated that only 13 per cent of Canadians have an advance care plan prepared. This must change. Studies show that the vast majority of Canadians believe that end-of-life care is very important, yet the number of Canadians who plan for end of life is relatively small.

The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association is working to bridge this gap. As someone once said to me, the question is not if you die but rather when you die.

During this week, the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association is encouraging professionals, caregivers and family members to work together as an interdisciplinary team to ensure that loved ones nearing end of life receive the best possible care.

On Wednesday, May 14 from 9:30 to 11:30 on Parliament Hill, in room 160, the Senate Liberal caucus will be holding our open forum discussion and our topic will be end-of-life care and end-of- life choices. We will be hearing from the Honourable Steven Fletcher, P.C., MP; Dr. Derryck Smith, Director of Dying with Dignity; David Baker and Amy Hasbrouck from the Canadian Association for Community Living; and Rick Firth, Vice President, Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association.

Honourable senators, Conservative and independent, I invite you to join our Liberal open caucus and participate in the non- partisan, open forum discussion. Please also join me in support of National Hospice Palliative Care Week.