Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak about Bill C-277, an act providing for the development of a framework on palliative care in Canada.
I first want to congratulate my colleague, the member for Sarnia—Lambton, for bringing this forward. I also want to congratulate my fellow members on the health committee for working so collaboratively on this bill at committee stage. I think our work and amendments improved this legislation to become something positive for all Canadians.
It is essential for us to be talking about palliative care. It is something I heard about a lot during my election campaign and continue to hear about from community members. Palliative care and access to end-of-life care are important issues for all Canadians.
Brampton South is a riding with a significant population of seniors, who brought this forward as an issue of dignity and quality of life. A strategy to address this need is an important step. I want to thank them for raising their voices and for championing this in my community.
As members know, palliative care is for all, regardless of age, who are approaching the end if life. It is for all people who desire a compassionate and comfortable place to receive care. In our conversation about medical assistance in dying, I raised the need for palliative care and home care to be involved in that discussion. That is why I am extremely proud that our government responded to all aspects of this issue in our relatively short time, so far, in government.
As members know, we will be investing $6 billion in home care through the provinces and territories; $2.3 billion will be going to fill needs in Ontario, which I hope will serve to fill the gaps that exist in our rapidly growing Peel region. Home care is about responding to Canadians' overwhelming desire to be at home, to receive care at home, and, sadly, if needed, to live out their end-of-life stage at home when possible. Palliative care is the other option that serves to make life more dignified for our most in-need people.
I would like to mention that palliative care workers and PSWs deserve our utmost respect for the difficult but important job they do for people in our communities.
I strongly support Bill C-277's goals to make a strategy and to incorporate work governments have been doing on this already. A strong evidence-based approach will deliver real results. That is the approach our government ran on and the one Canadians endorsed when they elected us.
Please know as I give my comments today that we recognize and respect that the provinces play the principal role in the delivery of health services, including palliative care. This bill, with the proposed amendments, understands that the federal role in health lies in coordinating and ensuring that there are the same services available for all. I am very pleased that the government will support this bill, with amendments.
The proposed amendments respect the intent of the bill but seek to align it with the scope of federal roles and responsibilities in relation to palliative care. They also seek to build on existing palliative care frameworks, strategies, and best practices being undertaken by provinces, territories, and stakeholder groups.
To ensure that Canadians have access to the best quality of palliative care, it is important that we do not reinvent the wheel. In many provinces, there are existing frameworks and policies. As such, it was important to me and my colleagues on the health committee to ensure that any new work on this would build on what exists already.
We also know that when it comes to caring for Canada's seniors in need of palliative care, the job falls not only to health care professionals but to other caregivers, including family members. As such, our committee made changes to the bill to ensure that all who provide care at this stage are supported and have their needs considered in the establishment of a framework for palliative care.
With our government's focus on evidence-based policy, it was also very important to ensure that any new work on this issue include the promotion of research and data collection so that we can ensure that the care provided to Canadians is based on the most relevant research, best practices, and up-to-date evidence in this area.
This is a very important part of the picture, as we all know very well that the incredible ongoing research in the Canadian health care field is innovative, leading to new opportunities for greater care. It is essential that this new knowledge be considered as we develop and maintain a framework for palliative care across Canada.
Our proposed amendments would facilitate federal support for improved palliative care in relation to three pillars, which are aligned with the objectives of the bill: training for health care providers; consistent data collection, research, and innovation in palliative care; and support for caregivers.
We continue to support pan-Canadian initiatives that enhance Canada's capacity to provide quality palliative and end-of-life care as well as a range of programs and services, such as family caregiver benefits and resources, that address the actions proposed in the bill.
Our government's investments in the provinces to in turn deliver health services are outpacing inflation, ensuring that they can deliver better health outcomes. I want to commend the Minister of Health on the recent health accord agreements.
I am also very proud to say that we are also working with first nations and Inuit stakeholders to identify options for building on current resources and services to provide increased access to palliative care.
It is crucial that any work we do regarding the health of Canadians reflects the different realities of the many communities across the country. Specifically, we know that the health care needs of first nations and Inuit communities deserve special attention to respect the traditions and existing frameworks that have been developed from community to community.
Overall, I cannot say enough how pleased I am that this important discussion is happening in this place. I do not doubt that this conversation will and must continue. The health committee, on day one, agreed that this was something we should look at, because it is an important issue for seniors and for us, too.
We have many important pieces of business before us at committee, but I imagine that a review of this strategy and of strategies stakeholders or provinces currently are using could be a full study in the future.
Palliative care and end-of-life options are the kind of hard but real topics that are our responsibility as leaders to address. These are the things that make us think of our loved ones and our own futures in personal ways. Regardless of our own views or choices, we are setting up a system that is fair, compassionate, and just. By taking a public health approach to issues like this, we are doing the responsible thing that serves as a framework for all Canadians.
I want to thank the parliamentarians in this House for supporting the bill and for all the contributions so far. It is something I have followed closely in the House. Today we continue to move this forward towards action.
Again, I congratulate the member for Sarnia—Lambton on Bill C-277 and her work to promote its aims. It is a noble quest that aligns with the priorities of this government to bring positive change to our health care system and with my own priorities to ensure that Canadians have access to the best possible health care services. I hope all members will join me in supporting the bill again at the next opportunity to vote for it.