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Palliative care bill passage on hold until February

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Palliative Care Bill C-277 expected to pass in the New Year
By Deborah Gyapong

Caption: Parliament's upcoming winter recess pushed the Palliative care bill C-277's final vote to February. (Iridescenti/ Wikimedia Commons)

Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu had hoped her Bill C-277 calling for a national palliative care framework would pass before Christmas, but now she expects it to pass in February.

The first-term MP representing the Sarnia—Lambton, Ont. riding said her private member’s bill was scheduled for its second and final hour of debate on second reading on Dec. 13.  “An agreement had been made with lobby clerks and party whips that they would have a voice vote, which means unanimous consent to let the bill go on to committee,” she said.

Instead of being saved by the bell, the legislation got postponed because the bells started ringing at 5:30 pm for six votes on other matters that afternoon.  Under House of Commons rules, if votes finish before 7 pm, private members’ business can go head.

“The votes went to 7:10 pm,” Gladu said. That means the vote on her bill has been postponed to the first available opportunity.  The House has risen for its Christmas break and returns Jan. 30.

“I wanted to get it passed before Christmas, but they are still supporting it and it will be rescheduled for the first week of February,” she said. “It’s not a huge delay, because that’s when the Health Committee will next sit anyway. 

Gladu said she is not concerned by the Health Committee’s back log of studies and legislation, including most recently the passage of Motion 47 that calls for a study on the impact of easily-accessible violent and sexual material available online.

“Palliative care is already on the Health Minister’s agenda,” Gladu said, noting the government had earmarked $3 billion in its 2016 budget for palliative, hospice and home care. “She has to come up with a plan on how she is going to spend that.”

“I think we will get support from all sides to move this forward,” she said. There are also palliative care advocates on the Health Committee who will have an influence on what they choose to study next, she added.

Bill C-277 has support from an array of palliative care and health care associations, an interfaith coalition that includes the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, and the Catholic Women’s League.

A delegation from the League visiting Ottawa in late Nov. said they would like to see palliative care part of the Canada Health Act to ensure it is an insured service available to all Canadians.

Gladu said her bill calls for an examination whether palliative care should be included in the Canada Health Act. She had spoken to Health Minister Jane Philpott in preparing her legislation to “evaluate  the advisability” of changing the Act, she said.

Gladu said there are several ways to accomplish the same result.  One is through the Canada Health Act; another is through the Canada Health Accord, now being renegotiated; or with some “specific palliative care government plan.”

“I don’t really have a preference,” Gladu said. “I just want to see it happen!”

Gladu said Canadians need to continue to notify MPs and Senators about their concerns regarding palliative care.  Sending letters and emails to Health Committee members might have an impact on when they choose to study her legislation once it passes to them, she said.

Earlier in December, the Catholic Organization for Life and Family urged MPs and Senators to support Bill C-277. 

“The issue remains urgent,” COLF said in its open letter. “It is estimated that only about thirty per cent of Canadians who need palliative care have access to it.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 December 2016 11:27  

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