moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, I am so pleased to be standing in the House today at third reading of my private member's bill, Bill C-277, an act providing for the development of a framework on palliative care in Canada.
The need for palliative care is increasing in our country. What began as a seed with the all-party parliamentary committee on palliative and compassionate care that studied this issue in the 2011 session and brought forward a report, recommendations, and motion to the House, grew into this bill, which has been supported both here and at committee, and is now ready for final consideration in the House.
Canadians need palliative care services now more than ever. Less than 30% of Canadians have access to this vital service, which allows them to choose to live as well as they can for as long as they can.
Bill C-277 is the next action required to define the services to be covered, to bring standard training requirements for the various levels of care providers, to come with a plan and mechanism to ensure consistent access for all Canadians, and to collect the data to ensure success. Through the amendments at committee, it will also consider re-establishing the palliative care secretariat.
A growing number of individuals of all ages in Canada suffer from chronic pain or deadly diseases. Palliative care services can replace a wide ranges of services, such as short-term care, home care, crisis care, and psychological or spiritual assistance services.
A palliative care philosophy is needed to meet all sorts of needs through a process that is adapted and patient-centric. Increased demand for home and palliative care will split the cost of health care in four, compared to the cost of short-term care or palliative care in hospitals.
The creation and implementation of a palliative care framework would provide consistent access to high quality palliative care in hospitals, at home, in long-term care facilities, and in nursing homes.
The bill is timely, since the special committee that studied the Carter decision on medical assisted dying legislation said that without good quality palliative care there would be no true choice. We want Canadians to have a choice.
During discussion in committee, we heard testimony from some of the outstanding Canadians who pioneer in palliative care, people like Dr. David Henderson, a lead physician in palliative care, and Dr. Pereira, another pioneer in palliative care. We heard from national organizations of nurses, hospices, and other palliative care experts. As a result of their testimony, several amendments were brought.
The first amendment tasks the federal government with developing a palliative care framework though the provinces are responsible for implementing it. Of course the federal government will support the provinces in this, and I was pleased to see the $11-billion investment in palliative and mental health care in budget 2017.
The second amendment clarifies the wording of the provision dealing with the training of palliative care providers. Many individuals are active in this field, including health care providers, volunteers in a variety of settings, and family caregivers. The committee felt it was important to better define training for health care providers and other people involved, so it amended the wording of the provision accordingly.
The committee also requested that the provision amending the Canada Health Act to include palliative care as a protected service be removed.
From what the witnesses told us, there were clearly other mechanisms that the federal government was already considering, such as health accords, infrastructure spending reviews, and programs for palliative care and home care.
The focus of the bill was on developing a plan, and there are many ways to do that.
One of the amendments brought forward at committee was that the proposed framework designed to support improved access for Canadians to palliative care evaluate the advisability of re-establishing the Department of Health secretariat on palliative and end-of-life care. In June 2001, the secretariat on palliative and end-of-life care was established as the first step in Health Canada's work to co-ordinate a national strategy on palliative and end-of-life care.
Nearly a year later, the secretariat brought together over 150 national, provincial, and territorial specialists in the field. This included practitioners, researchers, and those making decisions in palliative and end-of-life care. This summit, the national action planning workshop on end-of-life care, resulted in the establishment of the main priorities or working groups deemed as essential for quality palliative and end-of-life care in Canada.
These five working groups led to the beginnings of the Canadian strategy on palliative and end-of-life care and focused on best practices and quality care, education for formal caregivers, public information and awareness, research, and surveillance. I am very interested to see what an entity similar to the Department of Health secretariat on palliative and end-of-life care could look like today.
The bill now outlines the advisability of re-establishing this secretariat, which could be discussed at length. However, I would like to elaborate on what such a secretariat or regulatory body might look like.
It would be known as the central entity for palliative care information, education, and accessibility in Canada. Setting a national standard, or a national framework, would create consistent care across the country through a variety of mechanisms. Virtual care, home care, palliative care, and hospice care are only a few of the current possibilities.
Working all of these types of different care into community networks would be beneficial to all Canadians and would facilitate the process of finding and transitioning into palliative care. At the heart of these operations would be our health care workers, our nurses, doctors, palliative care physicians, and all the many other caregivers that exist.
An amendment to improve the wording of the need to provide research and collect data on palliative care was approved, as well as an amendment to remove ongoing responsibility for measuring the performance of the framework, since the provinces would have metrics in this regard.
The committee felt that the wording of the bill was adequately clear to cover all Canadians and, as such, no further amendments were required. I want to thank the committee members for their diligent consideration of the bill.
I was able to tell the committee what I would like to see happen when the framework was implemented. In terms of covered services, I would like to see the covered services include pain control, crisis intervention, spiritual and emotional counselling, as well as all services provided in home care and hospice. In an overall patient-oriented palliative care approach, these things are brought forward when needed and do not necessarily apply to the circumstances of every patient.
I would like to see the government leveraging training on palliative care that is already available through organizations like Pallium Canada and many universities. I would like to see us encourage more palliative care specialists to work in Canada, since we only have 200 versus the current need of 600.
I have heard a lot of innovative ideas that have been implemented to accelerate getting palliative care in more remote parts of Canada. For example, there are places where they have trained paramedics and home care workers, and then they are connected to a virtual call centre with palliative care specialists who can guide the care providers. Training at this level really accelerates the actual care that can be provided in remote communities, which is currently a real challenge.
An excellent example of palliative care done right can be found right at home in my riding of Sarnia—Lambton. With an increasingly aging population, Sarnia—Lambton has done incredible work by creating and continuing to expand its senior care network in our communities. With 20 palliative care beds, five palliative care physicians, and our integrated network of home care and hospice care, I believe Sarnia—Lambton is ahead of the pack.
I am proud to say that St. Joseph's Hospice in my riding survives on fundraising currently of $1 million a year, so hopefully we can have the government provide support for these hospices, which provide such a great service. I would like to thank Dr. Glen Maddison who, along with his many colleagues at St. Joseph's Hospice, provided input on this bill.
I believe all Canadians should have access to consistent and quality care, such as is available in my riding. I would like to thank Sarnia—Lambton's many institutions and groups that support and deliver palliative care, such as the St. Joseph's Health Care Society, Bluewater Health Palliative Care Unit, the Erie St. Clair Community Care Access Centre, and of course, St. Joseph's Hospice. Unfortunately, these resources are not abundant everywhere, so I am doing everything in my power to create them in the rest of Canada.
I would also like to have the data we need to take improved action on palliative care over time. We know, for example, that palliative care in home care settings costs about $200 a day versus $1,200 a day for an acute care hospital bed, but we do not know how much the true cost of palliative care averages. Because of the numerous ways people receive palliative care, and the many who have no access, there is a clear lack of information about what the true demand is. Knowledge about which treatments are more effective or are more cost-efficient are also needed. Knowing how many hospices we would need to adequately address the demand is equally important. There are only 30 hospices in Canada versus 1,300 in the U.S., so there is definitely a need.
Using some of the infrastructure money that the government has announced, I would like to see it spent to create Canadian jobs and to build palliative care infrastructure. That would certainly be money well spent. The palliative care framework in Bill C-277 will contain the plan, and the government will then determine the pace of spending and where it will be focused.
There has been so much interest in this subject, and such great support from the many arenas, I hope that when I thank people I will not forget anyone.
I want to thank the many organizations that have supported this bill through its journey, such as the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Nurses Association, the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians, Pallium Canada, ARPA, The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association, with many of their member hospices, like Bruyère continuing care, St. Joseph's Hospice in my own riding, and West Island Palliative Care Residence. I want to also thank the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Kidney Foundation, the ALS Society, the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists, the more than 50 organization members of the Quality End-of-Life Care Coalition, and the interfaith groups, including the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Canadian Council of Imams, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, the Armenian Prelacy of Canada, the Canadian Conference of Orthodox Bishops, the Ottawa Main Mosque and the Ottawa Muslim Association for their ongoing promotion and support of this bill. It is through organizations and groups like these that we can integrate palliative care into the current health care system and make a true difference in the lives of Canadians.
I also want to thank my colleagues on all sides of the House who have spoken passionately, and in support of this bill.
I want to thank the thousands of Canadians who have written letters to MPs and the Prime Minister, and who sent more than 84 petitions to this House asking for palliative care.
I want to thank the Minister of Health for her advocacy on this issue with the provinces, and for putting dollars into the budget to begin the journey to ensure that all Canadians have access to palliative care so they can choose to live as well as they can for as long as they can.
The time is right. This bill has been another fine example of how political parties can come together and work for the common good of Canadians, and it has been an amazing experience being part of it.
With that, I encourage each member of this House to support this bill. People in their ridings and people all across our nation desperately need access to good quality palliative care. This bill is another step in the right direction.