Asian elderly woman with cancer and wearing a headcovering is embracing her adult daughter. They are sitting on a couch and their foreheads are touching.

Palliative Care

As a patient in Canada, you have the right to palliative care.

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The Canadian Virtual Hospice defines palliative care as that which “supports people who are living with a life-threatening illness, condition, or health situation. It treats the whole person and their family and not just the disease, condition, or body part. Palliative care can be provided to people of any age, in any setting, by healthcare providers, family members, and other caregivers. It is provided for as long as needed – hours, days, weeks, months, or years. Palliative care might also be referred to as comfort care, supportive care, or symptom management.”

Palliative Care

  • Helps the person live as fully and comfortably as possible, to the end of their life
  • Supports their family and others who care about and support them. Family includes biological and chosen family and is everyone the person says is family
  • Addresses physical concerns such as pain, nausea, shortness of breath, and emotional, spiritual, and social concerns of the person and their family
  • Respects and helps to honour the person’s culture and traditions
  • Assists the person in making important decisions about their health and treatment and share those decisions
  • Provides grief support for the family after the death

Dying With Dignity Canada’s role

As the leading defender of Canadians’ end-of-life rights, we at Dying With Dignity Canada have a role to play in ensuring fair access to palliative care. Through our Support Program, we educate Canadians and their families about palliative care and where to find it. 

We also identify gaps in the system and provide recommendations on how they could be filled. Our goal is to ensure that Canadians have equitable access to all their legal end-of-life options, in accordance with the principles of the Canada Health Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. After all, Canadians have a right to choice when it comes to their own end-of-life journey. That’s what “dying with dignity” is all about.

Find palliative care resources where you live

We have compiled a list of palliative and end-of-life care resources and support services to assist you and your loved ones, no matter your current stage of health.

Empower. Inform. Protect your rights.