Cardus report on end-of-life care in Canada released: "Death Is Natural"


When asked to think about their end-of-life planning, 75% of Canadians express a desire to die in their own homes. Yet in actual fact, 70% of Canadians die in hospital. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a new Nanos Research poll, commissioned by Hamilton-based think tank Cardus, showed that 73% of Canadians fear their end-of-life wishes will not be respected in whatever setting they pass their final days.

The research team at Cardus believes there are ways to alleviate that fear. Building on good work done by the 2011 Parliamentary Committee and hundreds of excellent organizations in this field, the think tank is releasing a report entitled “Death Is Natural.”

Download a copy of the report here.

Today’s launch of Cardus Health sees the think tank entering the health care space with a unique anchor: emphasizing the social structures that undergird the common health institutions we see every day. Cardus aims to contribute to the public dialogue regarding aging and the provision of health care, while respecting the dignity of human life and promoting small, incremental improvements to public policy and practice.

“I’m becoming increasingly convinced that in addition to palliative care, the gamut of enmeshed family, community, and spiritual supports necessary for best-practice end-of-life care are being ignored to the detriment of all Canadians,” wrote Cardus executive vice president Ray Pennings in an op-ed for the Vancouver Sun in February.

In “Death Is Natural,” Cardus Health is advancing research on Canadian end-of-life care by examining three aspects of the subject:

  • The need to build a social system that supports the desire of Canadians for a natural death—dying of natural causes in natural environments surrounded by natural caregivers.
  • The recognition that not only the patient but also the natural caregivers need to be the focus of support, and thus the full range of social institutions best equipped for natural deaths need to be made more available to more Canadians.
  • The delivery of care not as a series of difficult choices, but rather as a continuum of care in which there is a seamless continuity of end-of-life care supports and settings.

Cardus has made this report available online, along with more resources and information on the improvement of end-of-life care. Visit for more information about this project.


Cardus is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society's institutions can work together for the common good.

Topics: Health