FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 28, 2023
TORONTO – “Today’s launch of the Palliative Care Atlas for Ontario is an important step in advancing quality end-of-life care for Canadians. Cardus counts it a privilege to partner with Pallium Canada on this project. We’re excited both for the pilot we’re releasing today, and for the data on six Ontario health regions as well as for British Columbia and Alberta, which will follow shortly.
In the inaugural Cardus report on this subject, Death is Natural, we highlighted an important fact:
Cross-partisan support for making palliative care ‘a top priority in the restructuring of the health care system’ is decades old—going back at least to a 1995 Senate committee recommendation to prioritize it.
However, it took more than 20 years for the federal government to implement a Framework on Palliative Care in Canada. The Ontario government only passed the Compassionate Care Act in 2020 and its own Palliative Care Framework in 2021.
We welcome these measures, of course. But they’re not enough.
As the data released today makes clear to all of us, Canada is well behind and playing ‘catch-up’ to other jurisdictions in integrating palliative care into health care, and especially into the delivery of long-term care.
As a think-tank working on this issue, Cardus can affirm that the available data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information is valuable. Even so, the Institute itself acknowledges significant gaps in the data.
So, the Pallium Atlas project is critically necessary and will give us an in-depth view of palliative care in Canada. This can enable evidence-based policymaking on this important topic.
Support for the Atlas research project is support for better palliative care data and better policy in Canada.
I would also emphasize that palliative care is not just a matter for government and health care policy. It is that, to be sure. However, palliative care should go beyond the health care system and paid professionals by integrating the involvement of families and loved ones in care delivery.
Better palliative care is holistic palliative care. It recognizes that the end of life involves much more than dealing with physical and biological concerns; it includes social, emotional, and spiritual issues. Preparation for the end of life is part of a well-lived life. Although government has a role, we must deliberately create space for individual Canadians, their natural caregivers, and the many civil society institutions that are well equipped to help.
So, this Atlas and the publicly accessible data it provides are important features of this project.
We cannot think of palliative care delivery as a series of mutually exclusive options. Rather, we should view it as a seamless continuum of care throughout the full spectrum of end-of-life supports and settings as our fellow Canadians and their loved ones complete the journey through to the end of their natural lives.
With all that said, it’s important to emphasize that government has a leadership role here. In fact, Ontario’s government must explore best-practice models that integrate palliative care training and education for interdisciplinary teams and other healthcare professionals, as outlined in the Framework it adopted in 2021.
So, we hope this Atlas helps to inform the Ontario government and to boost its efforts to ensure that every Ontarian who needs palliative care—whether they’re in their own residence, hospital, a long-term care home, a retirement home, or another community setting – has better access to high quality services, including in the final stages of life.”
- Ray Pennings, Executive Vice-President of Cardus
Cardus – Director of Communications
Cardus – Imagination toward a thriving society
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.