Palliative and End-of-Life Care

Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients facing life-threatening illness and their families. High-quality palliative care uses an interdisciplinary approach to care that focuses on the concerns of patients and families, provides pain and symptom management, and supports patients to die with dignity in a setting of their choice.

Early referral to palliative care provides proven benefits; however, currently, most Canadians receive this kind of care only in the last month of their lives. A palliative approach to care provides the right care, in the right place, at the right time - improving peoples’ quality of life and the appropriate use and costs of healthcare.

Improving palliative care and end-of-life care in Canada. Graphic of three people  arm in arm.

We know that right now, palliative care innovations are happening across Canada.

Although these innovations exist in Canada and elsewhere, they have not been widely implemented across this country. There is a need to identify and spread integrated approaches to palliative care and better understand their impact on experiences, quality of life, and costs for patients, caregivers, providers and systems.

CFHI’s programming in palliative and end-of-life care is focused on identifying high impact innovative models and practices ready for spread and scale up across the country to improve access to quality palliative and end of life care for Canadians.


The World Health Organization defines palliative care as “aim[ing] to provide relief from distressing symptoms and support patients and family achieving the best possible quality of life. Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.”


Palliative Care Matters Partnership

Canada is at a turning point when it comes to palliative care and we recognize that both national and local action is needed so that everyone can access timely, quality care in the last phase of their life.  The Palliative Care Matters initiative was started by Covenant Health to ensure palliative care becomes part of Canada’s universal healthcare model and joined many of Canada’s leading national health organizations and experts in palliative care and health policy to lead a Consensus Development Conference in Ottawa, Ontario on November 7-9.

CFHI was a proud partner of this initiative that developed a consensus statement as a road map for Canada released early in 2017.

CFHI also supported, Palliative Care Matters—Together, Stronger a face-to-face meeting on February 7-8, 2018, that brought together 54 participants from across Canada to look at how to advance the consensus statement.