PEI is at a pivotal moment where decisions made today will fundamentally shape the future of our healthcare system
CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI –
This provincial election, the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) wants to see palliative care at the top of all political parties’ agendas in Prince Edward Island. By adopting the recommendations outlined in CCS’s 2023 PEI election platform, candidates can ensure access to affordable, culturally safe, high-quality palliative care that every Islander has a right to receive.
Thanks to critical investments in cancer research, better methods of detection and more effective treatments, Islanders are living longer with cancer than ever before. Despite these advances, the number of people diagnosed with cancer is expected to increase dramatically in the years to come as the population grows and ages. This rise means that the number of people with chronic conditions, complex care needs, and those requiring palliative care will also increase.
“An estimated 2 in 5 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime and about 1 in 4 will die from the disease,” says Heather Mulligan, Advocacy Manager, Canadian Cancer Society. “We find ourselves at a pivotal moment where the decisions to invest in our health and well-being today will fundamentally shape the future of our healthcare systems.”
We need to get better at palliative care
Palliative care is often thought of as an option that is only available for people once curative treatment is no longer an option. In reality, it is a critical support for everyone facing cancer and not enough people have access to it through our healthcare systems.
“Many people have doubts or fears about palliative care because they do not understand what it is and then fear what they think it means,” says Mulligan. “People often think of palliative care as care that is limited to the last few days or weeks of life, and that’s that just a small part of the story. It is about maximizing people’s quality of life, not only for the person living with cancer but for their loved ones caring for them as well.”
For some people with advanced cancer and their families, staying at home for as long as possible, even to the end of life, is very important. Being cared for at home can be comforting, but it does mean more responsibilities for loved ones acting as caregivers.
A recent 2022 Ipsos poll conducted for the Canadian Cancer Society found that 75% of Atlantic Canadians would prefer to die at home. But, before the pandemic, in 2019-2020, of the 642 Islanders that used palliative care at the end of their lives, 81 died at home (12.6%).As Islanders prepare to cast their votes in this election, CCS is calling on all leaders and political parties to commit to better palliative care and caregiver support, ensuring a high quality of life along the cancer care journey. This includes:
Following through on the commitments outlined in the new Cancer Action Plan 2023-2028: Making a Difference Together by releasing timelines and benchmarks to properly assess progress against objectives.
Ensure that no one with cancer worries about job security while undergoing treatment by extending unpaid job-protected leave to at least 26 weeks.
Invest in more health human resources to provide quality, safe and responsive healthcare, including palliative care.
Prioritize palliative care in bilateral funding agreements.
Create better support for caregivers through the creation of a refundable tax credit or financial benefit.
“Everyone deserves care that provides comfort, dignity and choice when facing a serious illness,” says Mulligan. “While suffering, pain, grief and death are universal experiences, palliative care is not, as still too many Islanders face barriers to accessing palliative care or go without it entirely. It’s time that changed.”
You can read the full report here.
To learn how you can help us get better at palliative care, visit cancer.ca/PalliativeCare.
About the Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society works tirelessly to save and improve lives. We fund the brightest minds in cancer research. We provide a compassionate support system for all those affected by cancer, across Canada and for all types of cancer. As the voice for people who care about cancer, we work with governments to shape a healthier society. No other organization does all that we do to make lives better today and transform the future of cancer forever.
Help us make a difference. Call 1-888-939-3333 or visit cancer.ca today.
For more information, please contact:
Canadian Cancer Society