Government of Canada Supports Lakehead University’s project to assist underserved populations in receiving palliative care services

News release

$2.38 million in funding will support improved access and facilitate system change for underserved populations

May 6, 2024 | Thunder Bay, Ontario | Health Canada

Palliative care improves the quality of life and comfort of seriously ill patients and their families. Some people experience more challenges than others when accessing palliative care, including people aged 85 and over, those with dementia, mental illness, intellectual or developmental disabilities, those from linguistic minority groups, those living in rural and remote areas, and those experiencing homelessness.

Today, Marcus Powlowski, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Rainy River, on behalf of the Honourable Mark Holland, Minister of Health, announced $2.38 million in funding over four years to Lakehead University for their project: Improving Access and Facilitating Systems Change for Palliative Care Among Underserved Populations.

The project will provide a better understanding of the services received by under-served populations, in order to identify gaps and to overcome the unique barriers faced by vulnerable people.

In addition, the project intends to improve the experience of those receiving palliative care by developing meaningful resources for individuals, caregivers, and providers that are tailored to multiple underserved populations. The project will have guidance from advisory committees composed of persons with lived and living experience and organizations that represent them.

The Government of Canada's Action Plan on Palliative Care continues to lay a better foundation for coordinated action on palliative and supportive care needs. This project is aligned with the Action Plan priorities which include improving access to palliative care for underserved populations; supporting health system quality by developing palliative care skills and supports for health care providers, families, caregivers, and communities; and enhancing data collection and research.

The Government of Canada continues to work with provinces and territories, organizations, people living with serious illness, caregivers, and communities to improve the quality and availability of palliative care for everyone in Canada, including those who are most vulnerable.


"Palliative care is a critical part of Canada's health care system. As Canada's population ages, it is imperative that we have a health care system that offers timely access to assure that everyone can receive high-quality palliative care. By supporting projects like this, we continue to strengthen Canada's health systems and improve the quality of life for all people in Canada."

The Honourable Mark Holland
Minister of Health

"With a large aging population in Canada, the need for more palliative care resources becomes crucial to help ensure everyone in Canada receives the care they need. By supporting projects across the country, including this one at Lakehead University, we are increasing access to care and creating a better health system for all."

Marcus Powlowski
Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Rainy River

"Lakehead University is beyond grateful for the Government of Canada's significant investment in the research we're leading that will result in better access to quality palliative care for underserved populations, including people living in rural and remote communities. During the most difficult time of life when someone needs access to palliative care, that experience should be barrier-free and easy to navigate for patients and families. Lakehead is proud to contribute to this important work that will make a positive difference in so many people's lives."

Dr. Gillian Siddall
President and Vice-Chancellor, Lakehead University

Quick facts

  • The project leads are: Lynn Martin, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Health Sciences, Lakehead University; Dr. John Hirdes, University of Waterloo; and Dr. Dawn Guthrie, Wilfrid Laurier University. The project co-investigators are: Dr. Ravi Gokani; Dr. Anna Kone; Dr. Katherine Kortes-Miller; and Dr. Elaine Wiersma.

  • Budget 2023 confirmed the Government's commitment to an increase in health care funding of close to $200 billion over 10 years, including $46.2 billion in new funding for provinces and territories to further support the health workforce, including personal support workers, and help Canadians age with dignity close to home, with access to home care or care in a safe long-term-care facility.

  • Budget 2021 provided a $29.8 million over six years to advance the Government's Action Plan on Palliative Care and help build a better foundation for coordinated action on long-term and supportive care needs, including efforts to improve access to palliative care.

  • Between 2019 and 2021, the federal government provided $24 million in funding for palliative care initiatives under the Action Plan.

  • In 2019, Health Canada released a multi-year Action Plan on Palliative Care to tackle issues identified during the Framework's development that fall under federal roles and responsibilities.

  • In 2018, the federal government developed, through broad consultation, the Framework on Palliative Care in Canada. It offers a guideline for all palliative care stakeholders to work toward the shared vision of "all Canadians with serious illness living well until the end of life."

  • Budget 2017 committed funding of $11 billion over 10 years to provinces and territories for home and community care, including palliative care. The majority of provinces and territories included palliative care as part of their action plans.

Associated links


Christopher Aoun
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Mark Holland 
Minister of Health 

Media Relations
Health Canada

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