The first recipient of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Leadership Award is Minister Sharon Carstairs. Minister Carstairs was presented with the award in her home province of Manitoba on Friday, May 2nd, 2003, at the 8th Annual Hospice & Palliative Care Manitoba Celebrate Life Fundraising Breakfast. Dr. Paul Henteleff introduced this new award and this year’s recipient, and CHPCA Board Member Merle MacAulay presented Minister Carstairs with the award on behalf of the CHPCA.
Hospice palliative care is an issue that has been of interest to Minister Carstairs for many years. In the Fall of 1999, Minister Carstairs chaired a Subcommittee of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, that reviewed the federal government’s response to a 1995 Senate report entitled Of Life and Death. The final report from this Subcommittee was released in June 2000 in a document entitled, Quality End-of-Life Care: The Right of Every Canadian. This report made 14 key recommendations to the federal government and since its release, has had an impact on the government’s response to end-of-life care issues in Canada.
On March 14, 2001, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien appointed Minister Carstairs as Minister with Special Responsibility for Palliative Care. In this new role, Minister Carstairs has been working with Health Minister Anne McLellan to support the federal government’s interest in the development of hospice palliative care by working with provinces, territories and non-governmental organizations, to ensure that hospice palliative care services are meeting the needs of Canadian patients, families and caregivers. This new appointment was a positive step forward in the federal government’s commitment to quality end-of-life care in Canada.
In March 2002, Health Canada’s Secretariat on Palliative and End-of-Life Care, which supports the work of Minister Carstairs, began working on the development of a Canadian Strategy on Palliative and End-of-Life Care. Five Working Groups and a Coordinating Committee have been created and work is progressing.
Minister Carstairs has truly been a leader and champion for hospice palliative care in Canada.