Palliative and end-of-life care

"Palliative and end-of-life care clinicians have long worked for the day that no person will hear these words from a physician, 'There is nothing more I can do for you.'

"We can always provide care, beyond the potential for cure. We can provide expert and attentive service that addresses pain or physical discomfort arising from serious pathology and declining organ function. Working with colleagues from other disciplines, we can provide relief  from emotional and spiritual suffering, from fear and uncertainty, and can help people address important legacy and relationship issues as they approach death. Palliative and end-of-life care works to relieve suffering and to support optimal function so that people are freer to live as well as they can during this challenging time in their lives."

                                                                - Dr. Eric Wasylenko, palliative care physician and clinical ethicist

This is palliative care. And though everyone will die, only one in three Canadians who should be receiving palliative care, has access to it. This is a particular struggle in Saskatchewan where access to palliative care is especially difficult for patients living in rural communities who may not wish to leave their home community.

The CMA's call to action on palliative care

In 2015, the CMA released its report on palliative care and issued a national call to action, urging physicians to better serve their patients' palliative care needs, whether that means providing earlier referral to palliative care or becoming educated in the principles of palliative care so as to provide it in their own practice.

The report includes 10 recommendations (see pg. vii) including one that says, "All physicians should obtain essential palliative care skills and knowledge to provide basic palliative care services to their patients."

Subsequently, in fall 2016, the SMA's Representative Assembly passed the following resolution:

"Be it resolved that the SMA advocate for improved palliative care services for the people of Saskatchewan."

Please access the resources on this page to take a more active approach to palliative care and ensure that all patients in this province receive the care that they need at end-of-life.

Resources for physicians

Canadian Virtual Hospice

CVH is the most comprehensive online collection of peer-reviewed palliative and end-of-life resources available (Fassbender, 2015). It provides credible information for you and your patients from an interdisciplinary team of palliative care experts. It includes:

  • The Exchange: Experts share latest advances and best practices in palliative care.
  • Tools for practice: Protocols, standards, assessments and education tools.
  • Ask a Professional: An interdisciplinary team of palliative care specialists confidentially answer your practice questions.
  • Patient Teaching Tools: Topics articles and videos support patients, families and caregivers.
  • The Gallery: Palliative care experts share their insights on video.

Pallium Canada

Pallium Canada provides training for health-care providers on the essential practical knowledge, attitudes and skills needed to apply a palliative care approach in their practice. It provides both online learning opportunities as well as courses accredited by the Canadian College of Family Physicians and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Start here.

Speak Up - Advance Care Planning

The Speak Up campaign was developed to raise awareness of the importance of advance care planning, as well as the issues related to an aging population, a strained health-care system and end-of-life care. Explore tools to help you engage in advance care planning discussions with your patients and access workbook and guides to help them create their advance care plan.

The Methadone for Pain in Palliative Care Course is for physicians wishing to improve their knowledge and develop core competencies in methadone prescribing for pain management in palliative care. This self-learning program has been certified by the College of Family Physicians of Canada for up to two Mainpro+ credits.

Quality palliative care helps people honour their culture, traditions and spirituality. In collaboration with pan-Canadian partners, Virtual Hospice has developed, which shares the stories and wisdom of members of 11 cultural communities about serious illness, end of life and grief to address a gap in service and support. The video series helps improve quality of life and supports quality care at end of life that is culturally safe and inclusive. The cultures highlighted are: Chinese, Ethiopian, Filipino, Indian, Iranian, Italian, Pakistani, Somali, First Nation, Inuit and Métis.

Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians

The CSPCP consists of nearly 500 palliative care physicians and physicians with a special interest in palliative care. They promote access to high-quality palliative care for all Canadians through advocacy, partnerships, research, and physician education.

Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association

The CHPCA is the national voice for Hospice Palliative Care in Canada. Advancing and advocating for quality end-of-life/hospice palliative care in Canada, its work includes public policy, public education and awareness. Visit their doctors page for resources and education for physicians. provides essential independent information for health professionals about drugs used in palliative and hospice care.

Palliative Care Network Community 

Palliative Care Network’s mission is to provide a free platform to empower palliative care professionals to teach, interact, and exchange ideas with fellow colleagues globally to promote collaboration and an exchange of knowledge. Includes Barry Ashpole’s weekly Media Watch.

Canadian Network of Palliative Care for Children

The CNPCC strives to improve the quality of living and dying for infants, children and youth with life-threatening conditions and their families. They provide leadership and a common voice for pediatric hospice palliative and end-of-life care across Canada, driving, empowering and supporting high-quality care throughout the trajectory of the illness and through bereavement.

Resources for your patients

Canadian Virtual Hospice

Virtual Hospice provides support and information on palliative and end-of-life care for patients, families caregivers, and health-care professionals.

  • Topics articles relating to end of life including symptoms, physical, emotional and spiritual health, providing care, decision making and communication.
  • Videos on illness, grief, loss, spirituality and caregiving demonstrations.
  • Discussion forums where patients and families can connect with others with similar experiences.
  • Ask a Professional - palliative experts available to answer your patients' questions relating to end of life.

Compassionate Care Benefits 

Benefits paid to eligible individuals who must be away from work temporarily to provide care or support to a family member who is seriously ill and at risk of dying. is a free online resource to help people work through their grief from the comfort of their own home, at their own pace. It was developed by family members who’ve “been there,” and grief experts to complement existing community resources and help address the lack of grief services particularly in rural and remote areas. It is also an education tool for health providers.

When someone important to a child is diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, is dying or has died, families struggle with what to tell children, when to share information and how to address tough subjects like should children be at the bedside of someone who is dying and cremation. is a series of three learning modules that help tackle these topics in a straightforward, practical way. They provide strategies, talking points and video clips of families sharing personal stories.