Funding of $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.

Additionally, $1 million will be provided 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.

Copayments for end-of-life drugs will also be eliminated. Every year, about 2,700 Albertans who choose to die at home or in a hospice, pay out-of-pocket for end-of-life drugs that would have been covered in hospital. The Alberta government is putting an end to this inequity so all Albertans, no matter where they choose to spend their final moments, will not have to factor the cost of drugs into their decisions.

Dan Williams, MLA for Peace River, has also been appointed to consult with stakeholders and Albertans to help inform plans to allocate the remainder of the $20 million (approximately $14 million) in government funding for palliative care over the next three years.

“Palliative care preserves the dignity of the individual by affirming their life and by providing spiritual, emotional, and family support. 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.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

“I’m so pleased to be part of this important work. As we continue to face the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, now is an important time to discuss end-of-life matters with our families and friends so that we can face the future with strength and dignity.”

Dan Williams, MLA for Peace River and government engagement lead on palliative care

“The ending of copayments is a very important initiative that will reduce the financial burden faced by patients and families. This will also allow more people to consider staying at home, among their loved ones and other comforts, as they near the end of their lives. Covering the cost of drugs is one way care is being strengthened for palliative patients.”

Dr. James Silvius, senior medical director, Provincial Seniors Health (including palliative and end-of-life care), Alberta Health Services

“Seriously ill Albertans and their families often face many decisions about their care and personal wishes when they are at their most vulnerable and under great stress. Advanced care planning helps Albertans be prepared to face this time of their lives with clarity about what is important to them – and alleviates the burden on everyone involved so that family and care teams can work seamlessly together with confidence. We’re excited to launch this public- and patient-focused initiative, using best available practices from around the globe to help improve awareness, understanding and access to advanced care planning and palliative care in Alberta.”

Dr. Konrad Fassbender, scientific director, Covenant Health Palliative Institute

“When Albertans are diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, many do not know where to turn, or what options are available to support them and their loved ones. That’s especially the case in rural and remote areas. By raising public awareness, the Alberta Hospice Palliative Care Association can help more Albertans learn how and where to access support, resources, trained professionals and kind hands who can help guide them through the stress, fear and sadness of this difficult time.”

Kristi Puchbauer, executive director, Alberta Hospice Palliative Care Association