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Gladu’s private member’s bill set for third reading in April

23 March 2017

A private member's bill introduced in Parliament by Sarnia-Lambton MP Marilyn Gladu took another step this week to becoming a law.

A House of Commons committee voted Tuesday to support the bill providing for development of a national framework for palliative care. It is expected to return to the House in April for third reading.

“I think that the committee was unanimous in their support was a good sign,” Gladu said.

Tuesday's vote by the committee followed its clause-by-clause review of the bill.

“There were a couple of amendments, but mostly wording changes,” with no substantive changes, Gladu said.

If the bill passes third reading in the House, and is then is adopted by the Senate, it will become law.

“I would expect with the amount of business the Senate has, that they should be able to finish passing it by the time this session ends in June,” Gladu said.

According to Health Canada, palliative care provides patients who have life-threatening or serious illness with care that can improve quality of life, reduce or relieve physical and psychological symptoms, have a more peaceful and dignified death, while also supporting their family and those who cared for them.

Gladu said her bill “will give definition to what services the government expects to see covered across the country.”

Today, she said, there are “elements of palliative care within hospitals that are covered, but there are many services that are not covered.”

The bill should provide “some clarity about what services the government is prepared to fund, across the country, and to figure out how to get access for those,” Gladu said.

It will also look at collecting data on palliative care.

“It's really the framework to begin developing palliative care for all Canadians, across the country,” she said.

“It's getting a plan and moving down that road.”

Gladu developed the bill after being awarded a slot in a lottery run in the House to select MPs to introduce private members' bills.

She targeted palliative care after asking the community for ideas, and her bill has had support across party lines in Parliament, as well as from several national health care groups.

The Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians urged the government to support Gladu's bill in November when the group released a report on how to improve palliative care in Canada.

"Healthcare costs are escalating because we have failed to adapt to the needs of an aging population and the growth of chronic diseases in the population," society president Dr. David Henderson said in a news release.

"The status quo neither meets Canadians' needs nor is financially sustainable."

Because of the aging population, “I'm sure everyone has got a family members who has been in this situation,” Gladu said.

“Seventy per cent of Canadian have no palliative care, so there is no option. These people are suffering.”

Gladu said that isn't the case in her own riding, fortunately.

“We are so blessed in Sarnia to have St. Joseph's Hospice, excellent palliative care at our hospital and a great integrated network of homecare providers, many of which depend on charity to raise the funds to offer the services,” she said.

“We have more than five palliative care specialists. I think there's only 200 in the whole country, so we're in a very good spot.”

For more information visit The Observer

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