Delegates at the P.E.I. Palliative Care Conference in Summerside heard Friday that there are not enough services available to alleviate the suffering of the dying.
"We're facing a tremendous increase in the amount of people that are going to die in Canada," said Dr. Mireille Lecours, the Medical Director for palliative care. "We need to face that and increase capacity."
Fewer than 30 per cent of dying Canadians are receiving palliative care. That statistic is about the same on P.E.I., and Health PEI says that needs to be improved.
Kathy Toole's family depended on the Queen Elizabeth Hospital's palliative unit as her father was dying.
"Your wishes change. Instead of full recovery, your wish then eventually changes to no pain, peace of mind for everyone."
She said people need to start talking about death openly.
"If you love that person, you're kinder to let them go."
"It's a tough sell because nobody wants to talk about death," said Lecours. "That pretty much is the answer. Canadians are death-denying, politicians are death-denying, we are all death-denying."
The P.E.I. Liberals, elected to a new term in October, promised a $5.6 million palliative care centre. That centre is meant to both improve palliative care in the province, and free up long-term care beds for seniors who are not nearing the end of life. But the project is still in the design stage, two years after it was first announced.