Statement made on 08 May 2012 by Senator Catherine Callbeck
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck:
Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise today in recognition of National Hospice Palliative Care Week. This campaign hopes to raise awareness about hospice palliative care and also provides an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the volunteers across the country.
Of the more than 259,000 Canadians who die each year, fewer than 30 per cent will receive high-quality hospice palliative end-of-life care. As the population ages, the number of Canadians dying each year will increase. By 2036, there will be more than 425,000 deaths a year. The need for quality palliative care will only increase.
Our former colleague, Senator Sharon Carstairs, cast a shining light on the issue of hospice palliative care. As we all know, she dedicated herself to studying the gaps and also the progress that has been made on palliative and end-of-life care in Canada.
Over the years, she released two special reports on palliative care, most recently Raising the Bar in June 2010. She remains active in this area with speaking engagements and as a member of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Champion's Council. I would like to commend her for her ongoing commitment to improving palliative and end-of-life care for Canadians.
In my own province, like in other provinces, the Hospice Palliative Care Association provides care and support to those living with or dying from a life-threatening illness and to their families. About 250 trained and certified volunteers provide thousands of hours of care and support each year to more than 400 Island families. These volunteers support the tireless work of health care professionals to offer quality end-of-life care. I would like to commend these volunteers, and all those across the country, for their compassion, their care and their comfort to individuals and families living with a life-threatening illness.
Honourable senators, it has been said that palliative and end-of-life care is not about dying; it is about living well until the very end. Everyone should have the right to die with dignity and without pain, surrounded by loved ones in a place they want to be. As policy-makers, we need to ensure that our health care system offers programs and services so that Canadians can do just that.