The Alberta government has taken the first step in its promise to improve palliative care that was outlined in last year’s provincial budget.
Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced today the province is giving a $6 million funding boost as the first step of the government’s $20 million commitment to enhance palliative care.
$5 million will be provided to the Covenant Health Palliative Institute to increase access to palliative and end-of-life services and promote advance care planning so Albertans can ensure their wishes are honoured.
An additional $1 million will go to the Alberta Hospice Palliative Care Association (AHPCA) to establish in-person and online support groups, develop Alberta’s first telephone grief support line, and expand workshops on palliative care for Albertans.
The government is also eliminating copayments for end-of-life drugs, which they say about 2700 Albertans pay out of pocket for each year if they choose to die at home or in hospice when the drugs would be covered in a hospital. The province says no matter where Albertans choose to spend their final moments, they will not have to factor the cost of drugs into their decisions.
“Palliative care preserves the dignity of the individual by affirming their life and by providing spiritual, emotional, and family support,” says Minister Shandro. “Albertans deserve to spend their final moments in comfort. Our partnership with Covenant Health and the AHPCA and our decision to end copayments represent a first step at ensuring all Albertans are able to achieve that.”
The government has appointed Peace River MLA Dan Williams to consult with stakeholders and Albertans to determine the plans for the remaining $14 million in funding.