The palliative care needs of Canadians are best met through the provision of palliative care across primary and specialist levels of care, which requires physicians with differing levels of expertise and training, as described in the national Framework on Palliative Care in Canada. All physicians should have core competencies and skills in palliative care, taught at the undergraduate and postgraduate education levels, to be able to provide a palliative approach to care for their patients. For the development of specialized expertise in palliative care, we now have two certification routes developed for palliative care consultants: a Certificate of Added Competence through the College of Family Physicians of Canada and a Subspecialty in Palliative Medicine through the Royal College. Both routes support the development of consultant level, specialist palliative care expertise.
Recognition of these providers at the provincial level is necessary in order for us to begin to assess, measure and plan for human resources, including residency positions, needed across Canada to improve teaching, mentoring, research, program development and access to palliative care.
Representatives from the Palliative 4 Canadians (P4C) group met with Health Canada on January 30, 2019 to begin discussing implementation of the national Framework on Palliative Care in Canada. The Framework was tabled in parliament on December 4, 2018 by the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, federal Minister of Health, after a year-long consultation with many stakeholders including the CSPCP. Health Canada reported that they will now develop a Framework implementation plan that aims to action the guiding principles and goals reflected in the Framework. Their goal is to have the plan ready by late Spring 2019. Health Canada also plans to establish an Office of Palliative Care to provide high level coordination of palliative care activities going forward. P4C shared suggestions on how the Office could be structured to optimize efficiency and results.
We look forward to seeing how the implementation unfolds and the CSPCP will continue to be an active partner. It is heartening to have federal politicians and Health Canada assist all of us with improving palliative care for all Canadians.
*Canada’s four national palliative care organizations – CSPCP, CHPCA, Canadian Virtual Hospice and Pallium Canada
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