Compassionate Communities in Canada: it is everyone’s responsibility

Bonnie Tompkins


Prof. Allan Kellehear first developed a contemporary public health approach to palliative and end-of-life care. Countries around the world have since adopted the theory of practice that mobilizes palliative care as a public health issue—particularly the Compassionate Communities (CC) model. In the wake of Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) legislation and its growing senior population, quality palliative care has enjoyed a renewed focus. Pallium Canada is helping communities across the country understand and adopt the CC model, through education, knowledge mobilization, project facilitation, and leadership. Although it has made significant strides in the last few years, there is still progress to be made. The aim of this paper is to present the historical development of the public health approach to end-of-life care in Canada, including its successes and hardships thus far. Drawing from examples of regional, provincial, and national initiatives, future directions for community engagement as a public health approach to palliative care are discussed.