Plan for the development of palliative care in Quebec - The Canadian Cancer Society congratulates the Health Minister for his commitment to palliative care

16 November 2015

Montreal -

For the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) – Quebec Division, the five year plan for palliative care tabled today by the Couillard government marks an important step for better access to this service. The plan in general aims for a better quality of life for all Quebecers, for which the CCS would like to congratulate the government.

For a few years now, the CCS has been demanding more palliative care for everyone, everywhere and earlier. Although high quality palliative care is administered in Quebec, it is very unequal and not available to everyone . More than 34,000 Quebecers recently demanded better access to care by signing the CCS’s postcard petitions asking the government to prioritize palliative care.

“Some 20,000 Quebecers die each year from cancer. They should also have access to palliative care in the place of their choice, whether it’s a hospital, CHSLD long-term care centre, hospice or their home. This is far from the case now,” says Suzanne Dubois, Executive Director, CCS – Quebec Division.

In spite of advances in research, by 2030, there will be 35% more cancer cases in Quebec, making end-of-life care all the more necessary for these patients. “We know the positive impact of this care on patients and their loved ones: it’s essential for the public to also know the benefits of palliative care and ask for it. The measures announced by Dr Barrette show that the Health Minister is taking the situation seriously,” says Suzanne Dubois.

The plan, among other things, aims to raise the rate of deaths at home to 20% in five years (11% currently) and increase the number of palliative care beds. It also promises $4.5 million for the respite of family caregivers, $500,000 for the training of hospital workers and an evaluation of the implementation of the plan along the way. Above all, Dr Barrette stresses that palliative care should be accessible across the province in the place chosen by the patient.

On the ground, the strengthening of the palliative care offer has been welcomed, as explained by Dr Marjorie Tremblay who administers palliative care at home and in hospital: “Patients at the end of life come to us too late because they don’t know about palliative care or because there aren’t enough services, particularly at home. Even today, some end their days on an emergency stretcher. The training of dedicated and specialized teams to respond to the needs of patients would help ensure the quality and accessibility of palliative care and would also help demystify palliative care so that patients can ask for it. Considerable efforts are required to make this care accessible throughout Quebec.”

Around 80% of people who use palliative care have cancer. So, the CCS will follow the implementation of the plan attentively. “We must continue to watch closely to have an overall view of the situation in Quebec. Also, the training of healthcare professionals and a campaign to educate people so that they know when and how to ask for the palliative care help they need remain major challenges. Currently, too many Quebecers get access to valuable palliative care too late. Palliative care and its adequate funding should remain a government priority,” says Mélanie Champagne, Director of Public Issues, CCS – Quebec Division.

Issues to keep an eye on
  • Vast regional disparities in the palliative care offering, unequal distribution among places where it is administered (hospital, CHSLD long-term care centres, home, etc.)
  • Palliative care received too late during the course of the disease, a few days, even just a few hours before death
    • Late referral by healthcare professionals
    • Delays due to a lack of beds and home services
  • Increasing need due to ageing and population growth
  • Training of healthcare workers must be boosted
  • Lack of necessary data for decision-making: plan follow-up indicators are necessary to measure progress and reach the targets fixed by the government within five years
  • Public lack of information: some people refuse to consider palliative care because they wrongly associate it with imminent death. Palliative care can be offered at the same time as treatments to ease symptoms
About the Canadian Cancer Society

With the support of 300,000 annual donors and 30,000 volunteers, the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is the Quebec cancer charity that has the potential to save the most lives. Each year, some 135,000 Quebecers turn to it. So, the CCS does everything it can to increase the overall cancer survival rate, which is currently at 63%, to 80% by 2030.

The money raised by the CCS helps:
  • prevent more cancers and demand laws that protect public health;
  • fund more research projects;
  • support more people living with cancer.

Let’s save more lives. Visit or call us at 1 888 939-3333.

Mélanie Champagne
Director, Public Issues
Canadian Cancer Society – Quebec Division
Phone: 514 651-1470

Dr Marjorie Tremblay
514 651-1470