Four Canadian religious leaders, including CCCB president Bishop Douglas Crosby of Hamilton, are urging the federal government to develop a national palliative care strategy. Register file photo

Religious leaders call for national palliative care strategy

By 
  • April 28, 2017

Four Canadian religious leaders, including the head of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, are urging the federal government to develop a “well-funded, national initiative to improve palliative care access and quality.”

In an April 19 editorial in The Hill Times, an newspaper covering federal politics in Ottawa, the leaders said an important step towards that goal is passing Bill C-277, which was introduced by Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu last May and calls for a national palliative care strategy. The bill is heading for a vote on third reading in Parliament.

The editorial was signed by CCCB president Douglas Crosby; Bruce Clemenger, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada; Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO of The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, and Imam Sikander Hashmi of the Canadian Council of Imams.

“While much of the conversation around end-of-life issues in Canada has focused on what is often referred to as ‘Medical Assistance in Dying’, far too little attention has been paid to palliative care,” the editorial stated.

In the federal budget tabled March 22, $6 billion over 10 years was committed to improve “access to home, community and palliative care services.”

“It is vital that Ottawa coordinate with the provinces to deliver these funds efficiently, with particular attention to ensuring that all Canadians, regardless of their place of residence, can access palliative care,” the interfaith leaders wrote, noting that only 15-30 per cent of patients nearing end of life have access to palliative care.

They also affirmed that “the practice of palliative care does not include interventions which intentionally cause the death of the patient.”

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