Palliative Care Recognized at Last

After the ever-increasing number of deaths caused by physician assisted suicide legislation, the desperate need in Canada for palliative care has finally been recognized.

Shockingly, 70% of Canadians today do not have access to this vitally important care, which provides a pain-free and caring environment for those who are seriously ill and dying.  It also allows such individuals to be surrounded by their family at a difficult time in their life’s journey.

Bill C-277, a Private Member’s Bill, which calls for the development of a national framework on palliative care in Canada, received royal assent on December 12, 2017 and will fill this need.

Sponsored by Conservative MP, Marilyn Gladu (Sarnia – Lambton), the bill has the support of the three major federal political parties, a rare occurrence in our divided Parliament.

C-277 also has the support, among others, of the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Nurses Association, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Heart and Stroke Association, the Kidney Foundation and the ALS Society of Canada, as well as more than fifty organizations, which are members of the Coalition for Quality Care, including inter-faith groups, such as Christians and Muslims.

This is good news for patients and physicians. This national framework will fill a need for those experiencing a terminal illness.  Palliative care provides a valued alternative to legalized suicide in Canada.  In addition, palliative care, whether by home care or paramedics (i.e. assistants under physician supervision), is much less expensive than the cost of hospital care which is $1,100 a day.  Care costs $200 for hospice care or $100 a day or less by paramedics provided at home, which may include physiotherapists, chiropractors, occupational therapists, podiatrists, massage therapists, social workers, etc.  To remain in one’s home during a challenging medical experience is essential for many people’s wellbeing, and trained, medically competent personnel helping out in the home can make a big difference.

Bill C-277 was inspired by the book, “It’s Not That Simple”, by Jean Echlin and Ian Gentles, an exposé on the complexities of euthanasia, reviewed in our March, 2016 newsletter of REALity, http://www.realwomenofcanada.ca/book-review-its-not-that-simple-euthanasia-and-assisted-suicide-today-reality/

This bill remedies a serious defect in our health-care system and provides hope for those who are suffering end-of-life distress.