The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) welcomes the report by the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care, entitled Not to be forgotten: Care of Vulnerable Canadians. The result of extensive consultations among groups and organizations across our country, the report examines a basic and urgent question that concerns most Canadians.
Our Conference has repeatedly and clearly affirmed that everyone is responsible for the wellbeing of others until their natural deaths. “In order to respond to the physical, emotional and moral sufferings of people of all ages, particularly those seriously ill or handicapped, including those in a terminal phase, we call on Canadians, including our elected representatives, … to promote palliative care and end-of-life care“ (CCCB statement, 22 September 2005).
We are pleased that a number of our Members of Parliament have undertaken these extensive consultations and published this report out of their personal concern to see established in our country a national system of compassionate and effective care for some of our most vulnerable citizens. The Bishops of Canada share that concern. The inherent beauty and dignity of human life from its beginning until its natural end summons us to attend to this need without delay.
Palliative and compassionate care is an essential priority. It respects the dignity of all people, and responds to all dimensions of their humanity, including the spiritual. Furthermore, it responds to the most basic hopes and concerns of all humanity – that each dying person be assured of compassion, comfort, support and a human presence in ways that truly respect and protect the dignity and beauty of human life.
As follow-up to this report by the Parliamentary Committee, the Catholic Bishops of Canada will carefully monitor how our national, provincial and municipal institutions implement these important recommendations on palliative care.
The Most Reverend Richard Smith
Archbishop of Edmonton
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
17 November 2011
– Letter by CCCB President to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, urging the federal government to focus on the needs for palliative care in Canada (April 8, 2010)