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Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association - National Advance Care Planning Day


Hon. Michael L. MacDonald: Honourable senators, I would like to speak to one of subjects in the budget this year, the palliative and end-of-care provisions. In the budget, $3 million has been provided to the Pallium Foundation of Canada to support training in palliative care to front-line health care providers.

I want to say a few words to acknowledge the important issue of advance care planning in Canada. I am a member of the Champion's Council of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association, the national voice for hospice palliative care in Canada. Established in 1991, the CHPCA provides direction in advancing and advocating for quality end-of-life hospice palliative care. The work of the association's volunteer board of directors, which is composed of hospice palliative care workers and volunteers from Canadian provinces and territories as well as members at large, focuses on public policy education and awareness.

As a member of the Champion's Council, I support the CHPCA's goal to ensure that Canadians with a progressive, life- limiting illness and their families have access to high-quality, compassionate and cost-effective care from a variety of professionals.

Honourable senators may be wondering what advance care planning really means or what exactly it entails. It is a process of reflection and communication, a time to reflect on values and wishes and a time to let others know of your future health and personal care preferences in the event that you become incapable of consenting to or refusing treatment or other care. This means having discussions with family and friends and establishing a substitute decision maker, a person who will speak for you if you cannot. It could also include writing down one's wishes and may even involve talking with health care providers and financial and legal professionals.

In a recent Ipsos Reid poll, it was discovered that 86 per cent of Canadians have not heard of advance care planning and that fewer than half have had a discussion with a family member or friend about health care treatments if they were ill and unable to communicate. By continuing to advocate for change, we can ensure that more Canadians have these important discussions before it is too late.

I would like to encourage all honourable senators to attend today's reception on the occasion of the Champion's Council Life Blanket Campaign reveal event, being held today in Room 237-C in Centre Block at 4:30 p.m. It is hosted by Speaker Kinsella, Speaker Scheer and me.

I am committed to helping the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association succeed in its pursuit of excellence and care for persons approaching end of life so that the burden of suffering, loneliness and grief is lessened. To this end, I wholeheartedly support the CHPCA's mission to declare April 16 as Canada's National Advance Care Planning Day, a date that would be shared with National Healthcare Decisions Day in the U.S.

In support of this undertaking, I would like to bring to honourable senators' attention a number of facts: An estimated quarter of a million Canadian died in 2011-12, and the rate of death is projected to increase 21 per cent by the year 2020. The increasing demand for services at end of life is placing additional pressure on health care costs and budgets.

Advance care planning is a process of thinking about and communicating wishes for end-of-life care, and communicating end-of-life care wishes with family, friends and health care professionals. It also involves naming a substitute decision maker.

Canadians who do advance care planning, and their caregivers, report greater satisfaction with end-of-life care and are more likely to take advantage of hospice palliative resources or to die at home. I wish to raise awareness of these options available to citizens and to encourage conversations about planning for end of life.

In light of this, I fully support the proclamation and declaration that April 16, 2013, and each year thereafter shall be known as National Advance Care Planning Day in Canada. Honourable senators, the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association does noble and selfless work. I urge all honourable senators to support them, particularly in their establishment of the National Advance Care Planning Day in Canada.