“The first thing is we need to get people comfortable talking about death,” says Louis Hugo Francescutti, president of the Canadian Medical Association. “It’s something nobody wants to talk about.”

In Whitehorse last night, people shared their stories of loss and love at a town hall meeting hosted by the CMA.

Former Whitehorse mayor and Senator Ione Christensen was at the event.

“Even when you want to talk to family, they say, let’s not talk about it now, you’ve got a year or two left,” Christensen joked.

The event was part of a series of meetings planned across Canada this spring that the CMA hopes to use to raise awareness of the issue and to help it plan its next steps.

Ione Christensen

Ione Christensen shares a laugh at a town hall meeting to talk about end-of-life care in Whitehorse. 'Even when you want to talk to family, they say, let’s not talk about it now, you’ve got a year or two left.' (Philippe Morin/CBC)

The CMA says not enough Canadians are having conversations about death with their families, and that can result in a lot of pain and difficult choices as relatives near the end of their lives

Palliative care — care specifically designed for those who are dying — was a major part of the discussion.

“The maternity rooms accommodate a whole family,” says Daniel Dau, a nurse in Whitehorse. “Why don’t we have rooms like that for the palliative care patient?”

The CMA says 70% of Canadians haven't talked to their relatives about their wishes at the end of life.

It’s planning two more town hall meetings next month, in Regina and Mississauga.

The association is also inviting people to take part in the discussion online.