Health Care

Palliative Care

Palliative Care

As a comprehensive approach to end-of-life challenges, palliative care combines pain management with efforts to attend to a patient’s psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual needs. Palliative care also attends to the practical, emotional, and pastoral needs of caregivers, both professional and patient-identified, to ensure they receive proper support as they journey with the patient through his or her illness as well as after the patient’s death.

What Palliative Care Is Not

Despite its legalization in Canada and the support it has received among some segments of the population, the Catholic Church, drawing on the deepest sources of its tradition, remains strongly opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide. While euthanasia and assisted suicide are also referred to as Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), these are not to be admitted within the definition and practice of palliative care. Likewise, the World Health Organization (WHO) and many secular providers of palliative care in Canada exclude euthanasia and assisted suicide from the definition of palliative care. Palliative care is a means of accompanying someone who is extremely vulnerable and significantly (if not entirely) dependent on others for care. It can be seen as an expression of human solidarity, for we all face moments of vulnerability and dependency in varying degrees from birth to natural death. Finally, while palliative care can be (and is) offered by trained practitioners in healthcare facilities, it can be (and often is) delivered by patient-identified caregivers in a number of settings, including the home. (Source: CCCB Submission to Health Canada, 2018).

Joint Ad Hoc Committee on Palliative Care

The Joint Ad hoc Committee on Palliative Care is made up of the following seven organizations:

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB)
Pallium Canada
Dominican University College
Catholic Organization for Life and Family
Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute
Catholic Health Alliance of Canada
Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Canada

The Joint ad hoc Committee’s mandate is to develop parish-based resources on palliative care and end of life issues. It is chaired by The Most Rev. Richard Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton. The Most Rev. Noël Simard, Bishop of Valleyfield, serves as liaison with the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Advisor and Commission Secretary

Brian Butcher, Ph.D.

Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations


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