Open letter for the National Hospice Palliative Care Week 2024

On this Friday of National Hospice Palliative Care Week (always grateful to the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association for its many resources), we are pleased to share this open letter from the Quebec Coalition for Access to Palliative Care, of which we are a member.

Palliative care means living well!

As part of National Hospice Palliative Care Week, our Coalition, which represents over 25 members in the field, has launched a campaign to raise awareness among Quebecers of the nature of palliative care, with the aim of demystifying it.

Quebec was the birthplace of palliative care almost 50 years ago, and we can be proud of it!

Contrary to popular belief, palliative care is there to enable people suffering from a serious illness to live better. It aims to accompany people through their experience, to make their lives better, and that of their loved ones, by acting on their state of health in a holistic way. This means that all people with serious illnesses should be able to receive a palliative approach tailored to their needs. Yet access to equitable, quality palliative care remains a challenge in Quebec.

In the context of the reform of the healthcare network, with the creation of the Santé Québec agency, and the significant aging of the population, we would like to propose some possible solutions.

We therefore recommend the creation of clear governance and a specific palliative care directorate within the Ministry of Health, to better coordinate care across the country, respond to patients’ real needs, ensure greater equity in access to care and reduce pressure on the health network’s financial and human resources.

It is also important to put in place qualitative and quantitative indicators to clarify the current situation. At the moment, it’s very difficult to get an accurate picture of palliative care access and needs, even though this information is the basis of an effective government strategy.

We also need to raise awareness among the general public and healthcare professionals of what palliative care really is, in order to demystify it. Palliative care aims to improve the quality of life of all those suffering from severe illness. Even today, there is much confusion with end-of-life care or medical aid in dying.

We also encourage the government to fund palliative care in line with the needs of the population, in order to improve access and quality of care in all living environments.

Some time ago, Quebec was a world leader in palliative care. Today, the Quebec Coalition for Access to Palliative Care is reaching out to the government to restore the reputation of this crucial service.

Finally, we would like to invite the Quebec population to consult the resources and video testimonials (with English subtitles) of patients and healthcare professionals who present the nature of this care on the theme: Palliative care means living well!

Quebec Coalition for Palliative Care Access Coordinating Committee

Dr. Louise La Fontaine, palliative care physician and ethicist, President of the Association de Soins Palliatifs (AQSP)

Jeffrey Moat, President and CEO, Pallium Canada

David Raynaud, Senior Manager – Public Advocacy Team, Canadian Cancer Society

Chantal Verdon, Nurse, Ph,D, Research Professor UQO, Member of the Réseau québécois de recherche en soins palliatifs et fin de vie (RQSPAL)

Laurence de Villers, Executive Director, Société palliatifs à domicile du Grand Montréal

Dale Weil, Executive Director, Résidence de soins palliatifs Teresa-Dellar, Vice-President, Alliance des maisons de soins palliatifs du Québec