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In Nation With Newly Legalized Assisted-Suicide, Only About 30% Have Access to Palliative Care

Canada’s Catholic Organization for Life and Family offers support to legislation to provide a framework for care

The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) has written to all Senators and members of the House of Commons to communicate its support for private member’s Bill C-277, an Act providing for the development of a framework on palliative care in Canada.

This year, Canada legalized physician-assisted suicide.

In its letter, COLF states “that Canadians approaching the end of life will be assured of receiving the kind of life-affirming care and the respect they deserve only through the establishment of a national palliative care strategy.”

In mid-November 2016, Bishop Douglas Crosby, O.M.I., President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), was among the signatories of a joint ecumenical and interfaith letter also supporting the Bill.

Here is the letter:

December 8, 2016

Object: Bill C-277 – An act providing for the development of a framework on palliative care in Canada

As an organization committed to the development of a culture of life and a civilization of love, the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) is firmly convinced that Canadians approaching the end of life will be assured of receiving the kind of life-affirming care and the respect they deserve only through the establishment of a national palliative care strategy.  We write today to communicate our support for the intent of Bill C-277 – An act providing for the development of a framework on palliative care in Canada.  In our opinion, this is a decisive direction that will make it possible to concretely support patients requiring palliative care.

Indeed, where it exists, this care is of great benefit to patients suffering from severe health challenges.  Patients receiving palliative care feel safer; they welcome with joy and hope the accompaniment they receive; they are moved by all the signs of affection as well as the moral, human and spiritual support given to them so generously .  The simple humanity of it all touches them and comforts them, as they experience respect for their bodies and for their human dignity at a moment of great fragility and vulnerability.  It is with confidence and insistence that we encourage all members of the House of Commons and Senators to adopt Bill C-277- An act providing for the development of a framework on palliative care in Canada.

In 2010, COLF presented a brief before the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care, an all-party group of MPs dedicated to improving care for the elderly, dying and vulnerable Canadians.  It is a matter of record that this group was unique in the history of the Canadian Parliament, in that it was formed by Members of Parliament on their personal initiative and funded out of their office budgets.  Such was the level of concern which animated the Committee.  When its final report, “Not to be Forgotten, Care of Vulnerable Canadians”, appeared in 2011, it recognized an urgent need for the expansion of palliative care.

The issue remains urgent. It is estimated that only about thirty per cent of Canadians who need palliative care have access to it.

We urge you to lend your support to Bill C-277.

Please accept the assurances of my highest consideration.

Michèle Boulva, Executive Director

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