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MPP Oosterhoff speaks out on Bill 182, the Compassionate Care Act, and the impact of palliative care on communities

February 7, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Wendy Gabrek

On Monday, February 4, Matthews House Hospice hosted a Compassionate Care conversation with guest speaker Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West.

Oosterhoff, who introduced the Compassionate Care Act 2017 (Bill 182) to the Legislative Assembly hopes to increase awareness of palliative care issues throughout the province – leading to a more compassionate and engaged system that defines what palliative care is, and identifies training and educational needs of health care providers.

Oosterhoff  first introduced his first Private Member’s Bill, the Compassionate Care Act, on November 27, 2017. Bill 182 passed Second Reading unanimously on December 14, 2017, but was halted in the legislative process when parliament was prorogued.

MPP Oosterhoff re-introduced the Compassionate Care Act, now Bill 3, on July 18, 2018.

On July 26, 2018, the Compassionate Care Act received unanimous support on Second Reading.

The Bill enacts the Compassionate Care Act, 2017. The Act requires the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care to develop a provincial framework designed to support improved access to hospice palliative care. The Minister must table a report setting out the provincial framework in the Legislative Assembly within one year after the Bill comes into force.  Within five years after the report is tabled, the Minister must prepare and table a report on the state of hospice palliative care in Ontario. Each report must be published on a Government of Ontario website.

Specifically, Bill 182 is:

An Act providing for the development of a provincial framework on hospice palliative care, by:

1 (1) The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care shall develop a provincial framework designed to support improved access to hospice palliative care, provided through hospitals, home care, long-term care homes and hospices, that, among other things,

(a) defines what hospice palliative care is;

(b) identifies the hospice palliative care training and education needs of health care providers as well as other caregivers;

(c) identifies measures to support hospice palliative care providers;

(d) promotes research and the collection of data on hospice palliative care;

(e) identifies measures to facilitate consistent access to hospice palliative care across Ontario; and

(f) takes into consideration existing hospice palliative care frameworks, strategies and best practices.

Consultation

(2) The Minister shall develop the provincial framework in consultation with hospice palliative care providers, any other affected ministries, the federal government and any other persons or entities that the Minister considers appropriate in the circumstances.

Same

(3) The Minister shall initiate the consultations referred to in subsection (2) within six months after the day on which this Act comes into force.

Report to Assembly

2 (1) The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care shall prepare a report setting out the provincial framework on hospice palliative care and shall lay the report before the Assembly within one year after the day on which this Act comes into force.

Publication

(2) The Minister shall publish the report on a Government of Ontario website within 10 days after the day on which the report is tabled in the Assembly.

Report re state of hospice palliative care in Ontario

3 (1) Within five years after the day on which the report referred to in section 2 is tabled in the Assembly, the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care shall prepare a report on the state of hospice palliative care in Ontario and shall cause the report to be laid before the Assembly on any of the first 15 days on which that Assembly is sitting after the report is completed.

Publication

(2) The Minister shall publish the report on a Government of Ontario website within 10 days after the day on which the report is tabled in the Assembly.

“Hospice palliative care aims to help people who are living with or dying from a serious, life-limiting illness, as well as their family and caregivers. The goal of hospice palliative care is to relieve pain and suffering, and to improve a person’s quality of life, whether at home, in a hospice, hospital, or long-term care home. It is a form of healthcare which every person in Ontario would want to have available when the moment comes, and yet we still have a long way to go.

“The Compassionate Care Act will ensure that the government develops a framework, which will lead to improved access to and education about hospice palliative care in Ontario. Palliative care improves the quality of life throughout the treatment of a serious illness by providing practical, emotional and spiritual support. Hospice care places a high value on dignity, respect, and the wishes of the person who is ill, as well as the needs of the person’s loved ones.”

At Matthews House, Oosterhoff spoke of his journey to learn more about palliative care – an issue of importance both to his constituents and himself personally as a Christian – only to discover a lack of research and fact keeping. Although he was seeking funding from Queens Park, Oosterhoff admits he couldn’t initially identify the levers that needed adjustment, rather he discovered a “patchwork” and a postal code lottery that led to funding and care for those at end of life.

“I realized I had no data, no metrics, no way to track outcomes,” said Oosterhoff.

So, with no targets set, Oosterhoff realised that he needed to develop a more comprehensive way to look at palliative care as a whole – “where we’ve fallen shirt, and where we’ve pulled ahead”.

“Something had to change,” he said.

“Although 93 per cent of people surveyed say they don’t want to die in hospital, most people end up dying in sub-optimal conditions,” said Oosterhoff. “And with a ‘Gray Tsunami’ of Baby Boomers putting pressure on the Health Care system, there is a practical reason to invest in palliative care now.”

Oosterhoff says the best place to set goals is where dignity of life and respecting the tax payers meets.

Although Bill 182 does not prescribe specific actions by the government, it is Oosterhoff’s hope that it will get community members passionate and engaged as they try and find a solution. He thanked those in attendance, listened to their personal stories, and referred to event goers as “hospice ambassadors”, while describing the hospice itself as a “warm, loving and supportive place where value for human life is exemplified”.

The international standard for hospice care is 10 beds for every 100,000 people – or 1,400 beds for Ontario. Currently the province has almost 600 palliative care beds (200 added since 2016) but with an average 80 per cent occupancy rate Oosterhoff has an uphill challenge ahead, with the strange juxtaposition he’s discovered between a shortage of beds and beds going unused.

With growing advancements in health care, an ageing population and a growing number of new patients, Oosterhoff’s work will lay the matrix for the future – if supported continues through the province, and its residents.

For more information about Matthews House Hospice, located at 131 Wellington Street East, Alliston, call 705 435-7218 or visit www.matthewshousehospice.ca. For more information about palliative care, visit www.ontariopalliativecare.ca



         


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