Our Story

The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) was formally established as a national charitable organization in November 1991 and opened the first office in Ottawa in February 1994. The association’s first newsletter “AVISO” was published in both official languages in June, 1992. In Spanish, “AVISO” means “advice” or “intelligence”. In Latin “AVIS” means “bird”. Both meanings relate nicely to the official logo of the association.

Today, the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association is the national voice for hospice palliative care in Canada. It is a national charitable non-profit association whose mission is to provide leadership in hospice palliative care in Canada. We strive to achieve this mission by supporting research, promoting education and training, improving public awareness of hospice palliative care, and by advocating for increased programs and services. CHPCA works in close partnership with other national organizations and will continue to move forward with the goal of ensuring that all Canadians, regardless of where they may live, have equal access to quality hospice palliative care for themselves and their family.

Historical Timeline

The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its founding in 1991. The association is proud of the work it accomplished in partnership with countless organizations, physicians, nurses, government representatives, researchers, staff, and volunteers to ensure all Canadians have equal and equitable access to quality hospice palliative care.  

In honour of CHPCA’s 30th anniversary, we are looking back at the history of hospice palliative care in Canada and all the work the association achieved since its founding. We are grateful to all those who contributed to CHPCA’s continued success; your work has been instrumental in strengthening the hospice palliative care community across the country.  

Today, the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association is the national voice for hospice palliative care in Canada. It is a national charitable non-profit association whose mission is to provide leadership in hospice palliative care in Canada. We strive to achieve this mission by supporting research, promoting education and training, improving public awareness of hospice palliative care, and by advocating for increased programs and services. CHPCA works in close partnership with other national organizations and will continue to move forward with the goal of ensuring that all Canadians, regardless of where they may live, have equal access to quality hospice palliative care for themselves and their family.

1967

Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement, opens St. Christopher’s Hospice in London, England. 

1969

Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross publishes her landmark book “On Death and Dying” featuring over 500 interviews with dying patients. The book was notable for identifying the five stages through which many terminally ill patients progress and for the way it challenged the medical profession’s view of dying patients at the time.  

Note: While this model of grief is still widely referenced, it is now largely discounted as inaccurate. However, we recognize that it was very influential and challenged society’s perception of dying patients at the time. 

November 1974

“Saint Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg launched a unit for “terminal care,” which was founded by David Skelton and led by Paul Henteleff.” 

1975

Only a few weeks after Saint Boniface, Dr. Balfour “Mount left a promising career as a urologist to launch the ‘palliative’ service at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal. Both physicians worked independently in two different hospitals with no knowledge of what was happening at the other.” Dr. Mount previously studied under Dame Cecily Saunders. 

1975 Continued

Dr. Balfour Mount coins the term “palliative care” (as it is used in the modern context) to have a proper bilingual term in English and French. 

1976

Dr. Balfour Mount and colleagues hosted the first international conference on palliative care in North America at McGill University. It was launched as McGill’s International Congress on Care for the Terminally Ill – now the International Congress on Palliative Care. 

1976 Continued

Robert W. Buckingham, a Yale graduate student, plays a “prank” as part of his exploration of medical attitudes toward the terminally ill. He poses as an American visitor with terminal pancreatic cancer and is admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital. He later “[publishes] a ‘participant observation’ comparison of the care that he had received in different wards; of course, the palliative care unit was the best.” He later claims the plan originated with Dr. Balfour Mount, “who worried about the financial vulnerability of his [palliative care] unit and wanted evidence to justify its existence. 

Early 1980s Continued

Journals specifically devoted to palliative care emerged, starting in the USA. Research on the topic of hospice palliative care no longer had to be published in journals devoted to each article’s next-closest topic.  

1981

The Palliative Care Foundation in Toronto, Ontario proposes a formal definition of palliative care: “Palliative care is active compassionate care of the terminally ill at a time when they’re no longer responsive to traditional treatment aimed at cure and prolongation of life and when the control of symptoms, physical and emotional is paramount. It is multidisciplinary in its approach and encompasses the patient, the family and the community in its scope.” 

1990

The Royal Victoria Hospital begins developing a National Palliative Care Directory of Programs and Services. CPCA later works with provincial associations to expand and update the directory, ultimately making it available online. 

1991

The Canadian Palliative Care Association (now CHPCA) is established. The goal of its founding is to develop a trusted national voice for hospice palliative care in Canada. The founding members came from all over Canada to help realize this goal. During the first years of CPCA’s existence, it is led by the board as a collective. 

Founded by: 

  • - Donna Roe, National Executive Director, VON Canada, Ottawa ON 
  • - Paul Henteleff, Palliative Care Physician, St. Boniface Hospital, Winnipeg MB 
  • - Ina Cummings, Palliative Care Physician, QEII Health Sciences Centre, Halifax NS 
  • - Edna McHutcheon, Professor, Faculty of Nursing, University of Calgary, AB* 
  • - Denis Marcoux, Funeral Director, Winnipeg, MB* 
  • - Sr. Norah O’Donnell, Elizabeth Bruyere Hospital, Ottawa, ON* 
  • - Karl Benne, Senior Consultant, Health Canada*
  •   

*unconfirmed

1992

Hospice palliative care was mandated as a core service through the creation of health districts in Saskatchewan."

1992 Continued

Work began on developing a set of standards for hospice palliative care, with Dr. Frank Ferris taking a leading role throughout an extensive and intensive national consultation process. 

February 1994

CPCA’s first Executive Director, Linda Lysne, is appointed. 

February 1994 Continued

CPCA’s first office is established in VON Canada’s National Office. 

1994

CPCA is invited to present to the newly formed Special Senate Committee on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. Even with limited time and resources, the diligent work of everyone involved allows CPCA to meet the deadline. Representatives from CPCA appear before the committee, one of more than 150 such presentations by individuals and groups. 

1995

“The Order of St. Lazarus adopts palliative care as its primary charitable focus. Shortly thereafter the V/C Palliative Care, Chev. David Irwin began a search for a national charitable project. One was supporting the printing and distribution of the Canadian Palliative Care Association (CPCA) newsletter, Aviso.” 

1996

Dr. Balfour Mount’s expression, “palliative care”, becomes a Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) and replaces Medline’s older index term “palliative treatment.” This helped to further legitimize and emphasize the differences between “care” and “treatment.” 

1997

CPCA establishes the Award of Excellence to honour individuals or volunteers working in hospice palliative care in Canada. The inaugural Award of Excellence was presented to Dr. Ina Cummings for her extensive contributions to hospice palliative care. 

1998

CPCA’s second Executive Director, Janet Dunbrack, is appointed. 

1998 Continued

Glaxo Wellcome partners with CPCA to develop Living Lessons, a public awareness campaign that includes a guide for caregivers, a guide for family physicians, pamphlets, and brochures. GW also provided media training for a small group of national spokespersons and sponsored a bilingual toll-free line located in the CPCA National Office. 

May 1998

CPCA designates the first full week of May as National Palliative Care Week. Diana Fowler LeBlanc, Honorary Patron, hosts a national event at Rideau Hall to launch the first National Palliative Care Week. A highlight was the exhibit of paintings by Robert Pope titled “Illness and Healing.”  The Robert Pope Foundation later made prints of “Sparrow” from the exhibit available to members of CPCA at no charge to assist in their own public awareness efforts. 

2000

CPCA exceeds its goal of reaching 2000 members by the year 2000. Building membership was an immediate priority of the CPCA after its founding, so this was an exciting milestone for the organization. 

May 2000

A Caregiver’s Guide is launched at the PCAA conference in Lethbridge, Alberta. The guide was created through the collaboration of The Order of St. Lazarus, CHPCA, and 100+ other collaborators, including many end-of-life care professionals. The purpose of the guide was to “complement guidance given caregivers by the nursing teams and, in essence, “be there in the middle of the night when the caregiver needed to know what to do.” 

June 2000

The Senate Report Quality End-of-Life Care: The Right of Every Canadian is published, stating: “Each person is entitled to die in relative comfort, as free as possible from physical, emotional, psychosocial, and spiritual distress. Each Canadian is entitled to access skilled, compassionate, and respectful care at the end of life.” 

The report also acknowledges that only approximately 15% of Canadians who require hospice palliative care services have access to these specialized services. 

2001

The Senate Report Quality End-of-Life Care: The Right of Every Canadian is published, stating: “Each person is entitled to die in relative comfort, as free as possible from physical, emotional, psychosocial, and spiritual distress. Each Canadian is entitled to access skilled, compassionate, and respectful care at the end of life.” 

The report also acknowledges that only approximately 15% of Canadians who require hospice palliative care services have access to these specialized services. 

2001 Continued

Due to the enormous success and demand for A Caregiver’s Guide, an additional print of 10,000 copies is funded by the Alberta Cancer Foundation. 

2001 Continued

“The Canadian Palliative Care Association changed its name to the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association concluding that “due to the fluidity of the English language, “hospice care” and “palliative care” are no longer recognized as separate entities. The term that is now widely accepted in Canada is “hospice palliative care”.” 

2001 Continued

The newly renamed CHPCA also changes their logo to acknowledge their future goals while simultaneously honouring the organization’s roots. 

“The official logo of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association is composed of three elements: a curved line and a wing evoke the previous logo of the Canadian Palliative Care Association (CPCA) and the caduceus from which it stems, while bringing freshness, modernity, lightness and movement. The base symbolizes the help and support that the CHPCA wishes to bring to the hospice palliative care community in Canada. The colours, blue for the first two elements and red for the base, were chosen to ensure continuity with the previous colours of the CPCA logo but were modified to provide greater softness and warmth.” 

2001 Continued

CHPCA’s third Executive Director, Sharon Baxter, is appointed. 

2002

“A Model to Guide Hospice Palliative Care” is published. This publication represents 10 years of extensive and intensive consultation toward the development of a national framework of hospice palliative care standards. Dr. Frank Ferris is recognized as the principal author. 

2002 Continued

The first annual Hike for Hospice is held nationally. The event’s model was gifted to CHPCA by the BC Hospice & Palliative Care Association and has since become the biggest annual hospice palliative care awareness event. 

2004

Canadians begin having access to Compassionate Care Benefits (CCB), Employment Insurance benefits paid to people who have to be away from work temporarily to provide care or support to a family member who is gravely ill and who has a significant risk of death within 26 weeks (six months). A maximum of six weeks of compassionate care benefits may be paid to eligible people. 

2004 Continued

An Ipsos-Reid survey reported that on average, Canadians estimate that 54 hours per week would be needed to take care of a dying loved one in their homes.  

2004 Continued

The Educating Future Physicians in Palliative and End-of-life Care (EFPPEC) project begins with the goal of developing national undergraduate competencies for palliative and end-of-life care. “The project was funded by Health Canada and was led by the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) in partnership with the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC), the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians (CSPCP), and the faculties of medicine at Canada’s 17 medical schools. The goal was to graduate every medical student with the knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to meet patients’ primary palliative care needs.” 

2004 Continued

The federal, provincial, and territorial First Ministers made a commitment to provide funding for certain palliative home care services and the CHPCA made a commitment to report on the progress of the jurisdictions.

January 2004

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada begins offering the Compassionate Care Benefit through the Employment Insurance program. The benefit provides 8 weeks leave (6 weeks paid) to eligible Canadians to care for a dying loved one. 

2005

A Caregiver’s Guide receives its first national release in both English and French. In the years following, both Chinese and Inuit translations of the guide were developed in order to reach more Canadians. 

2005 Continued

The first inquiry for an international adaptation of A Caregiver’s Guide comes from Portugal. In the years following, further requests for adaptations are received from Australia, China, Japan, Malta, the Czech Republic, and Russia. 

2008

CHPCA begins running the Advance Care Planning (ACP) in Canada initiative, developing a National Framework for advance care planning in collaboration with a number of sectors and professional groups. 

2008 Continued

As part of the Advance Care Planning (ACP) in Canada initiative, the SpeakUp! campaign was coordinated by Louise Hanvey. The purpose of this awareness campaign was to encourage Canadians to talk about death and dying more openly and without fear. 

2009

CHPCA’s Nurses Interest Group reviewed and approved the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Nursing Standards of Practice. Best read in conjunction with the 2008 Canadian Nurses Association’s hospice palliative care nursing competencies, both documents provide a framework for building professional hospice palliative care nursing practice and will guide discussion and policy development.

2010

CHPCA, in partnership with the Social Work Competencies on Palliative Education Executive Committee, embarked on a project to integrate competencies for social work practice in hospice palliative care into social work undergraduate and graduate education curricula and continuing education programs. The ultimate goal is to increase the capacity of all social workers delivering psychosocial end-of-life care to patients and families to provide consistent, good quality care at the end-of-life, regardless of location and context of practice.  

January 2010

The QELCCC released Blueprint for Action 2010 to 2020which summarizes the QELCCC’s priorities for the next 10 years:  

- Ensure all Canadians have access to high quality hospice palliative end-of-life care;  

- Provide more support for family caregivers;  

- Improve the quality and consistency of hospice palliative end-of-life care in Canada; and  

- Encourage Canadians to discuss and plan for end-of-life. 

November 2011

House of Commons report “Not to Be Forgotten: Care of Vulnerable Canadians” is published. It addresses palliative care, suicide prevention, elder abuse, and disability issues. 

2013

CHPCA surveys Canada’s top 100 employers to with the goal of learning whether they offer any kind of compassionate care leave to their employees. This survey resulted in the Compassionate Companies Research Update report. 

February 2015

“The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in Carter v. Canada that parts of the Criminal Code would need to change to satisfy the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The parts that prohibited medical assistance in dying would no longer be valid.” 

2016

The Canadian Compassionate Companies designation is created by CHPCA’s Champion’s Council to recognize those corporations that have formal human resource policies in place to accommodate employees who may need to take time off work to care for a loved one. To date, 20 companies have earned a CCC designation, with more to come!

June 2016

“The Parliament of Canada passed federal legislation that allows eligible Canadian adults to request medical assistance in dying.” 

2017 Continued

The Educating Future Physicians in Palliative and End-of-life Care (EFPPEC) Update Project is initiated. “The project partners undertook a “refresh” process to reflect the changes in the practice environment, and to align to the 2015 CanMEDS framework. The CSPCP led content development and the validation process, with support from project partners AFMC and CHPCA.” 

January 2021

CHPCA’s fourth Chief Executive Officer (formerly referred to as Executive Director), Laurel Gillespie, is appointed. 

March 2021

“Parliament passed revised legislation that makes important changes to who may be eligible to obtain medical assistance in dying and the process of assessment. These changes take effect immediately. The government is working with provinces and territories and with health care professionals to ensure eligible Canadians will be able to request MAID according to the new law, and that the appropriate protections are in place.”  

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

It is incredible to see that modern hospice palliative care as we understand it today is less than 60 years old – yet look how far we have come! Everyone from CHPCA over the past 30 years worked tirelessly and with great success to improve hospice palliative care in Canada with partners from across the country and around the world.  

“Unfortunately, in end-of-life care, we do not have a vocal constituency: The dead are no longer here to speak, the dying often cannot speak, and the bereaved are often too overcome by their loss to speak.” – Harvey Chochinov 

Every day, new research, practices, and questions are brought to the fore. CHPCA is eager to continue to its work to facilitate these conversations and to amplify the voices of the health care professionals, volunteers, patients, and their families who all deserve to be heard. The bar continues to be raised, and we are ready to rise to the occasion and continue to advocate for better, accessible, and compassionate hospice palliative care for everyone in Canada who needs it.  

We wish to thank all who contributed their time, knowledge, and experiences to help us compile this timeline of CHPCA’s history over the past 30 years. Your contributions help us understand the foundation upon which we build as we continue moving towards a future where all Canadians have access to quality hospice palliative care. 

“You matter because You are You,  
and You matter to the end of Your life.  
We will do all we can to help you,  
not only to die peacefully but to live until you die.”  

— Dame Cicely Saunders