’Every life and every death is important’

In a speech in Winnipeg, Olivia Chow discusses Jack Layton’s final days and the need to expand access to palliative care.

But sadly, Jack’s experience is not at all universal in Canada. Too many Canadians take their final journey without the kind of comprehensive care and support Jack enjoyed. Too many families do not have the knowledge and the power to feel they are in control of the final journey. Too many feel the despair of the end and not the celebration of life. Too many families do not have the care and support – or financial resources — required so the journey can be experienced at home, or in surroundings of great comfort for all. And in a way that is less stressful and painful. Too many families do not experience the pure energy when we come together to celebrate a life in time of death. To hold each other’s hands and sing, and praise a life well lived. 

My friends, just as the birth of a baby receives comprehensive care and support from the community and the government, so too should every death. Palliative care is critically important, not just for the patient, but for the entire family. All of you here today know that so well.