MP Charlie Angus hopes the faith community will support his proposed motion to better palliative care in Canada. Courtesy of the House of Commons.

NDP MP puts forward motion on palliative care

“If we improve care for Canadians, they will see euthanasia is not necessary”

***UPDATE, February 4, 2014***

OTTAWA—A number of health organizations have offered their support for Angus' motion, including Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association, Centre for Education and Research on Aging and Health (CERAH), College of Family Physicians of Canada, Canadian Pharmacist Association and the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists.

In a press release from his parliamentary office, Angus said: "All across Canada we see the need for quality palliative care. The federal government has a key role to play in working with the Provinces and territories on improving health care services. I am working closely with the medical and social organizations who are on the front lines of this important issue.”

An upcoming debate will be "an important milestone for the Parliament," the release added.

"Ottawa has been missing in action on this file for too long. The New Democrats are bringing this issue to the House to get support for a national strategy to assure quality, community and family-based care for our loved ones."

Compiled by ChristianWeek staff. Read the original story below, published January 29, 2014.

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OTTAWA, ON—Charlie Angus, NDP Member of Parliament for Timmins–James Bay, is asking the faith community to help support his recently introduced Motion 456 centred on palliative care. He believes euthanasia debates are premature when Canadians lack consistency in palliative and home-care across the country.

“Euthanasia comes up more in the media because it’s a hot button issue,” Angus laments. “But we haven’t begun addressing the fact that the majority of Canadians don’t have adequate end-of-life care. Making sure everyone has access to good services, [asking] ‘what are the shortfalls, do families have support, is there quality pain care?’—we need to have those conversations first.”

Following the 2008 election, Angus’ brother-in-law became very sick. He was placed in hospice care, where his family was with him around the clock during his last days. Angus says it was a healing experience, however, he soon realized this was not the norm. Drastic shortages of palliative care beds leave many Canadians with no alternative but the emergency ward.

“It’s very disturbing, the lack of coherence on access to care across Canada. We need to do better and we can do it in a more cost-effective manner. Home-care, moving towards hospice care, is a much smarter way of doing business.”

Angus hopes his motion will instigate a positive, bi-partisan discussion about values Canadians share. He describes his motion as “a statement of principal” intended to draw the provinces, territories and First Nations communities together discussing best practices and to develop a national strategy.

“Birth and death are key moments in the lives of individuals and families. There has been a movement to make birthing more family-centred and spiritually whole, I think we need to look at that for death as well.”

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, is pleased to see this motion. He believes better palliative care would minimize the demand for euthanasia.

“A lot of Canadians fear dying a bad death,” he explains. “If we improve care for Canadians and they witness relatives dying good deaths, they will have less to fear and see euthanasia is not necessary.”

Angus’ only concern about the motion is the possibility it will not be passed before the next election.

“We are counting on the faith communities to contact their MPs. There’s so much power in these communities and this issue strikes at the heart of the values of the faith communities.”

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About the author

Senior Correspondent

Craig Macartney lives in Ottawa, Ontario, where he follows global politics and dreams of life in the mission field.

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