Monday, November 21, 2011

Canadian Cancer Society Welcomes Caregiver Support and Palliative Care Recommendations in Report Released by Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care

TORONTONov. 17, 2011 /CNW/ - The Canadian Cancer Society applauds recommendations about family caregiver support and palliative care in a report released today by the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care (PCPCC) and urges the federal government to take action.

The report - Not to be forgotten: care of vulnerable Canadians - focuses on elderly, dying and vulnerable Canadians and provides recommendations for improving palliative care, family caregiver support, elder abuse and suicide prevention. The PCPCC is an ad-hoc, all party group of federal MPs who formed the committee on their own initiative. The report reflects testimony from hundreds of people at 24 hearings and local round tables across Canada.

"The spirit of non-partisan collaboration shown by the MPs on this committee is a great example of Parliament working at its best - MPs working across party lines on issues of concern to Canadians," says Dan Demers, Director, Public Issues, Canadian Cancer Society.

Palliative care
"Currently, we have a complicated patchwork of palliative care in Canada, with significant disparities within and between provinces," says Demers. " This means that some patients may suffer needlessly during an already difficult time. This is unacceptable. People at the end of life are vulnerable and we must not abandon them."
The PCPCC's recommendations on palliative care include:
  • urging the federal government to re-establish a Palliative Care Secretariat to conduct and support research, as well as facilitating communication and collaboration among the various levels of government and community stakeholders
  • collaborative development and implementation of national standards for quality palliative care
  • coordination and dissemination of palliative and end-of-life research and information resources
  • developing a flexible integrated model of palliative healthcare delivery that would take into account the geographic, regional and cultural diversity of Canada while providing a funding mechanism to help the provinces and territories with implementation.
Family Caregiver Support
Eighty-eight per cent of Canadians said that providing care for a family member would have a negative impact on their financial situation, according to a Canadian Cancer Society 2011 poll.

"The poll sent a clear signal that the majority of Canadians believe that family caregivers need more financial support and that this should be a priority healthcare issue," says Demers.

The Society has been advocating for better financial support for family caregivers through improvements to the Compassionate Care Benefit, which is administered by the federal employment insurance program. These improvements, which are reflected in the PCPCC's recommendations, include:
  • Timeframe for financial benefits: Increase the benefit period from the current six weeks to 26 weeks, accessible during a 52-week period.
  • More flexibility: allow people to claim benefits for partial weeks taken over a longer period, rather than blocks of weeks at a time.
  • Revise eligibility criteria: change the terminology for people eligible for benefits from "significant risk of death" to "significant need of caregiving due to a life threatening illness."
The Society also supports the PCPCC's recommendation that the federal government establish a refundable tax credit for family caregivers to help families with the costs of providing care. The refundable tax credit, an enhancement to the family caregiver tax credit announced in the March federal budget, would provide a lump sum reimbursement of caregiver expenses, which would be of benefit to lower income families.

"More must be done in Canada to ensure people dying from cancer and other serious illnesses have access to high-quality palliative care no matter where they live," says Demers. "And it is simply unacceptable for family caregivers, who are already giving so much, to also have to deal with financial difficulties. The Society will continue to lobby the federal government to take action on these two important issues."

The report - Not to be forgotten: care of vulnerable Canadians - is available on the website for the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care: link to the full report.

The Canadian Cancer Society fights cancer by doing everything we can to prevent cancer, save lives and support people living with cancer. Join the fight! Go to to find out how you can help. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website at  or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

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