Oosterhoff’s palliative care bill becomes law

MPP Sam Oosterhoff Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff’s bill, The Compassionate Care Act, officially has become law. Photo source: Sam Oosterhoff's Twitter account.

Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff’s palliative care bill has become law after a unanimous vote.

The Third Reading for what is known as Bill 3, the Compassionate Care Act, took place after Public Committee hearings on Nov. 23-24.

Bill 3 establishes a provincial framework to improve access and quality of palliative care in hospitals, long-term care homes, hospices, and home care.

“This law demonstrates the commitment of the Government of Ontario to provide truly holistic and humanizing care for those at the end-of-life and those with serious illness, regardless of age,” said MPP Oosterhoff. “I cannot tell you how grateful I am for the meaningful contributions made by members of all parties of the legislature and above all, to the many dedicated frontline health care professionals, who make compassionate care possible every day.” 

The framework identifies measures to facilitate consistent access to palliative care across Ontario and measures that would support palliative care providers. It also identifies palliative care training and education needs of health care providers and caregivers, as well as research and common data elements on palliative care that are needed.

The committee adopted amendments suggested by stakeholders to include reducing the report back time, adding a focus on underserved populations, and emphasizing the need to consider specific patient populations.

During the legislative hearings, 40 stakeholders testified in favour of the bill. Among the stakeholders were the Ontario Medical Association, Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians, Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association, ALS Canada.

Bill 3 is Oosterhoff’s first Private Member’s Bill, which was tabled and debated in 2017. It did not then become law because parliament was dissolved before the Third Reading. In July 2018, the bill received unanimous support from the Ontario Legislature. Public meetings and the Third Reading were the final steps involved in turning the Bill into law.

“Congratulations to everyone who came together to pass the Compassionate Care Act to help ensure that patients receive the care, dignity and respect they deserve in every stage of their life,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “The provincewide framework that will be developed as a result of this Act will ensure that more patients and families have improved access to high-quality palliative care when they need it and support health care workers and caregivers in their efforts to deliver this important care.”

Learn more about the Compassionate Care Act on the Legislature Assembly of Ontario website: https://www.ola.org/en/legislative-business/bills/parliament-42/session-1/bill-3.