Senator’s Statement in the Senate on National Hospice Palliative Care Week
May 3, 2016

“Studies and reports are good. Debates and discussions are valuable.
But what Canada needs today is not another government committee
on palliative care,┬ábut a government committed to palliative care.”
– Senator Betty Unger

Honourable senators, this week is National Hospice Palliative Care Week and today I want to take a moment to thank and honour the many palliative caregivers across Canada.

At the most vulnerable time of life, palliative caregivers are there to lessen the suffering, loneliness and grief for those living with chronic pain and life limiting illnesses.

Palliative care workers do not often experience the joy of seeing their patients improve. The rewards do not usually include that victory over illness, those reunions after recovery or the laughter that accompanies an improved prognosis. No, honourable senators, the experience of a palliative care worker is different, and yet no less fulfilling.

Palliative care is person centred, rather than condition centred. It’s about much more than simply treating symptoms, problems and medical issues. It’s about caring for people: vulnerable people; people who are in a life transition and may be anxious about their future; those who may be in pain and need expert medical assistance to alleviate it; people who may be struggling with frailties they have never had before; and people who may have been confronted with a chronic illness that no one expected and or wanted.

Honourable senators, palliative care has always been important, but now, with the introduction of legalized doctor assisted suicide, it’s more important than ever.

Studies and reports are good. Debates and discussions are valuable. But what Canada needs today is not another government committee on palliative care but a government committed to palliative care.

So. today I wish to honour those who selflessly give of themselves to make the lives of others better. Today I salute you, the doctor, nurses, health care practitioners, volunteers and all those who serve in the field of palliative care. Thank you for your heart, your dedication and your service.