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Canadian Government Make Major Investment
in The Pallium Project

After more than a year of active planning and collaboration by hospice palliative care leaders throughout the western and northern parts of Canada, the Government of Canada federal health ministry announced  $4.3 million [$3.3 million USD; 2.76 million Euro] in funding for Phase II of the Pallium Project in November.

The funding comes from a special purpose fund for improving Canada's primary-health system, called the Primary Health Care Transition Fund (PHCTF). It represents the Government of Canada's single largest one-time investment-to-date in building the nation's capacity for quality palliative care, including end-of-life care and bereavement support. The Pallium Project Phase II, formally entitled
Pallium Integrated Care Capacity Building Initiative, will extend Pallium's Phase I research and development initiative in health human resources (HHR), continuing professional development (CPD).

Although helping those with life-threatening illness to leave life with dignity and compassion has been prominently placed on the Canadian public agenda for years, only five to fifteen percent of Canadians caring for a dying loved one have adequate access to hospice palliative care. For those Canadians who do know about palliative care, most believe the services and programs are only located in Canada's largest cities, and are only for the most complex cancer-related end-stage illness.

Pallium Phase II is announced at a time when an important income security benefit is about to be implemented for the first time in Canada, starting in January 2004. The
Compassionate Leave benefit will be administered by Canada's Employment Insurance system. It will make available up to six weeks of paid leave for recipients to care for a gravely-ill family member.

Dr. Jose Pereira, Pallium Project Leader

, notes that "no one caring for a loved one should ever feel that they do not have access to local community services, health care expertise, and other resources that will help them when faced with life-threatening or life-limiting illness. This next phase of Pallium will help extend our good work with rural and remote health care professionals and ensure a range of pan-Canadian learning resources and supports are available to those who need them, when they need them, and in a form they can use."

The intent of Pallium Phase II is to focus on integration at several levels to improve hospice palliative care at the community-level. This means integration in building linkages between primary-care health providers and expertise available at Canada's specialty palliative care units. It means better integration by improving collaboration between community-based, voluntary sector organizations and health care delivery systems. It also means better integration by balancing the attention focused on care at the bedside with the organizational development necessary to ensure accountable and sustainable hospice palliative care.

Some of the key features of Pallium Phase II include:

  • A formalized demonstration of outreach and "in-reach" professional development for community-based caregivers to link them with physician, nursing, pharmacy and other professionals, in order to support "just-in-time" workplace learning through improved access to hospice palliative care expertise. Other support includes special multi-professional courses offered in rural health regions, video-conference based "tele-clinics," and 24/7 access to palliative care expertise for community-based health care providers and citizens through professionally-staffed call centres.

  • The establishment of multi-partner based hospice palliative care learning centres throughout Canada's western provinces and northern territories, to coordinate and further develop teaching-learning and professional/volunteer development beyond the life of the Project. Selected Canadian resources will also be targeted for a peer-reviewed development process and distribution on a pan-Canadian basis.

  • Hospice palliative care service and program development institutes and health system leadership development. Local health system palliative care managers will have the opportunity for a focused professional development experience to help them implement the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association's (CHPCA) Model to Guide Hospice Palliative Care.

Those interested in learning more about Pallium Phase II and wishing to be placed on the Project's email subscription list are advised to contact Michael Aherne at [email protected]. An updated version of the Pallium web-site will soon be available at

Note: More information about Canada's forthcoming Compassionate Leave benefit can be obtained at

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