Supporters of hospice care in Northern B.C. hope 4,500 signatures will convince the provincial government to start adequately funding palliative care.
The Prince George Hospice Society has been circulating a petition asking the province to provide 100 per cent of the funding for existing hospice facilities and to support the creation of more hospice houses in B.C.
The petition early this week had 3,000 signatures from Prince George and another 400 from Dawson Creek, which would like to establish a hospice house. Quesnel has already forwarded its own petition with 1,100 signatures, said Donalda Carson, executive director of the Prince George Hospice House.
Hospice houses provide end of life care. They currently receive only 40 per cent of their funding from the province, through their regional health authorities. The rest of their budgets are made up with fundraising.
Carson said studies show hospice care costs one-third the amount end of life care costs if provided in a hospital.
The B.C. Liberal government’s new strategy for end of life care recommends the development of alternative options for end of life care. But they have so far not directed health authorities to fund those options, said Carson.
“This is a problem that people struggle with for years and they get no response from their health authorities,” she said.
The Northern Health Authority is aware of the Hospice Society’s requests, and it will do what it can, said spokesperson Mark Karjaluoto.
“We really think end of life care does warrant more resources. But it is also difficult with the realities of budget pressures,” he said.
When she presses government members, Carson says, she is consistently told the province will not tell regional health authorities how to allocate funding.
The petition is available for signing at the Hospice House’s bereavement centre on Ferry Ave. until 5 p.m. Friday. It will be shipped to Victoria Monday.