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Palliative care support expanded

Provincial Press Release May 20, 2021 @ 10:04 am published 11:11 am


Albertans with a life-limiting illness who use injectable medications for pain and other symptoms will no longer need to pay for pre-filled syringes.


Beginning June 1, the government-sponsored Palliative Coverage program will cover the costs associated with pre-filling syringes, making it easier for people receiving palliative care and their caregivers to administer important medications, such as pain medication, and reducing costs for Albertans in palliative care.

“Albertans in palliative care often face intense, unrelenting pain and other symptoms over the course of their illness. Eliminating the cost of pre-filling syringes with medication is a significant way in which we can support these Albertans during this difficult time.” Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

The Palliative Coverage program provides supplementary health benefits to Albertans in palliative care who choose to stay in their home or a hospice. The program covers the cost of eligible prescription drugs, diabetic supplies and ambulance services. When this change comes into effect, the program will also cover the cost of syringes for injectable medication and the pharmacy’s cost for filling the syringes.

In 2019-2020, 5,200 Albertans received supplementary health benefits through the Palliative Coverage program. Almost 2,000 of these Albertans used injectable medications for pain management. On average, a patient receiving palliative care may require 10 to 12 syringes of pain medication each day.

“This program expands palliative care services for Albertans with life-limiting illnesses so they can receive the treatment they need in the places they call home. Appropriate and timely palliative and end-of-life care is essential and we are moving in the right direction to support palliative care patients with dignity and comfort.” Dan Williams, MLA for Peace River

Quick facts

  • Alberta’s government has committed $20 million over four years for improving palliative care and caregiver support.

  • Effective March 1, 2020, prescription drug co-payments were eliminated for Albertans receiving their medications through the Palliative Coverage program.

  • Enhancing palliative care in Alberta is a government priority and the government is looking at ways to:

    • support raising awareness of how and when to access palliative and end-of-life care

    • develop effective caregiver supports

    • shift from hospital to community-based home and hospice care

    • establish education, training and standards for health professionals



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