Due to Parliament's upcoming winter recess, the Palliative care bill C-277's final vote will have to wait until February. Photo courtesy of Iridescenti, Wikimedia Commons

Palliative care bill passage on hold until February

By 
  • December 15, 2016

OTTAWA – Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu had hoped her Bill C-277 calling for a national palliative care framework would pass before Christmas, but it appears she will have to wait until February.

The first-term MP representing Ontario's Sarnia-Lambton riding said her private member's bill was scheduled for its second and final hour of debate on second reading on Dec. 13. "An agreement had been made with lobby clerks and party whips that they would have a voice vote, which means unanimous consent to let the bill go on to committee," she said.

Instead, the legislation was postponed because the bells started ringing at 5:30 pm for six votes on other matters that afternoon. Under House of Commons rules, if votes finish before 7 pm, private members' business can go ahead.

"The votes went to 7:10 p.m.," Gladu said. That means the vote on her bill has been postponed to the first available opportunity. The House has risen for its Christmas break and returns Jan. 30.

"I wanted to get it passed before Christmas, but they are still supporting it and it will be rescheduled for the first week of February," she said. "It's not a huge delay, because that's when the Health Committee will next sit anyway."

Gladu said she is not concerned by the Health Committee's backlog of studies and legislation, including most recently the passage of Motion 47 that calls for a study on the impact of easily-accessible violent and sexual material available online.

"Palliative care is already on the Health Minister's (Jane Philpott's) agenda," Gladu said, noting the government had earmarked $3 billion in its 2016 budget for palliative, hospice and home care. "She has to come up with a plan on how she is going to spend that."

"I think we will get support from all sides to move this forward," she said.

Bill C-277 has support from an array of palliative care and health care associations, an interfaith coalition that includes the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, and the Catholic Women's League.

A delegation from the League visiting Ottawa in November said they would like to see palliative care part of the Canada Health Act to ensure it is an insured service available to all Canadians.

Gladu said her bill calls for an examination whether palliative care should be included in the Canada Health Act. She said she had spoken to Philpott in preparing her legislation to "evaluate the advisability" of changing the Act.

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