Physician and Patient Organizations Laud Parliamentary Report on Palliative and End-of-Life Care

OTTAWA, Nov. 17, 2011 /CNW/ - The Canadian Medical Association (CMA), the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention today commended the report of a Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care that calls for the development of a National Palliative and End-of-Life Care Strategy for Canada.

"End-of-life care is an area of our health care system that requires urgent attention," said CMA President Dr. John Haggie. "In fact, when it comes to patient- or family-centred palliative care, there is no system. We therefore commend this committee's efforts and hope its recommendations serve as a catalyst for governments to transform the health care system."

The CMA has urged governments to work toward a common end-of-life care strategy that would ensure that all Canadians have equitable access to and adequate standards for end-of-life care. It was one of many organizations that provided input to the Committee.

"We are particularly pleased that the report is helping to raise awareness of the issue of elder abuse and neglect of older women and men in Canada. At present, a patchwork of health, social and justice programs across the country exists and progress is being made. But awareness, appropriate resources and better understanding of the underlying factors must go hand in hand to be more effective," said Charmaine Spencer, co-chair of the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse.

Ms. Dammy Damstrom-Albach, President of the board of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, said: "We commend the committee for recognizing the importance of suicide prevention in the context of palliative care and for the inclusion of a recommendation for the establishment of a National Suicide Prevention Strategy.  This is a step in the right direction. Given that a similar motion just passed almost unanimously in the House of Commons what we need now is for the federal government to take these ideas forward."

Said Dr. Haggie: "This report demonstrates the kind of non-partisan collaboration and cooperation that are needed if we're to ensure our most vulnerable patients can live out their final days in dignity and that their caregivers receive the meaningful supports to allow this to happen.

"If we fix palliative care, we can use the same paradigm to transform the rest of the health care system."

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is the national voice of Canadian physicians. Founded in 1867, CMA's mission is to serve and unite the physicians of Canada and be the national advocate, in partnership with the people of Canada, for the highest standards of health and health care. The CMA is a voluntary professional organization representing over 74,000 of Canada's physicians and comprising 12 provincial and territorial medical associations and 51 national medical organizations.

The Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (CNPEA) is a national non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of the abuse of older people in Canada. Founded in 1998, it has been federally incorporated since 2000.

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP) also a national non-profit organization was incorporated in 1985 by a group of professionals who saw the need to provide information and resources to communities to reduce the suicide rate and minimize the harmful consequences of suicidal behaviour.

For further information:

Lucie Boileau, Manager, Media Relations
Canadian Medical Association
lucie.boileau@cma.ca
Tel: 800-663-7336 / 613-731-8610, ext. 1266
Cell: 613-447-0866

Charmaine Spencer, Co-Chair
Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse
cspencer@shaw.ca
Tel: 778-558-0715

Tim Wall, Executive Director
Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention
casp@casp-acps.ca
Tel: 204-784 4073