HPCO 2024 Annual Conference. Palliative Care, Everywhere








Oral Papers



SAVE THE DATE: June 8-10, 2025

Our annual Conference, HPCO2024, occurred on June 9-11, 2024.  This sold-out event welcomed over 800 delegates from across Ontario.  We also welcomed delegates from across Canada and from the United Kingdom.

The 2024 conference theme was Palliative Care Everywhere. Building on the 2023 conference theme of Now is the Time, Palliative Care Everywhere underscores the importance of a palliative approach to care being available in all settings where people die. Despite the progress we have made, many people do not have equitable access to quality, integrated, patient-centred, sustainable hospice palliative care services. Whether at home, in hospice, in long-term care, in hospital, group homes, prisons, shelters, or unhoused, palliative care must be available in all settings and for all people.

Day 1:

HPCO2024 kicked off with a warm welcome from Ogimaa-kwe Claire Sault, the elected Chief of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. Conference co-Chairs, Nadine Valk and Christopher Klinger, introduced and thanked our Program Advisory Committee for bringing 5 keynotes, 69 workshops, 39 oral presentations and 30 poster presentations.

Our opening panel, featuring Nancy Lefebre of SE Health, special invited guest, Helen Simmons, CEO, St Christopher’s, Susan Blacker, and Deanna Bryant, both from Ontario Health, discussed the importance of providing Palliative Care Everywhere, for Everyone. The conversation highlighted key accomplishments and gaps in health equity in Ontario, Canada, and beyond.

We welcomed 70 people into the June Callwood Circle of Outstanding Volunteers. The June Callwood Award was established in 1994 to recognize and thank outstanding hospice volunteers throughout Ontario. Thank you and congratulations to all!

Kath Murray presented the Life and Death Matters Frances Montgomery Personal Support Worker Hospice Palliative Care Award to Michelle McInnes, a PSW who consistently goes above and beyond for those in her care!

Following an engaging program of concurrent sessions, we came back together to hear Dr. Leonie Herx deliver the Carmelita Lawlor Lecture. A perfect ending to a full day of learning and connecting with colleagues and friends.

Day 2:

Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, the Honourable Sylvia Jones, brought greetings to the over 800 delegates at #HPCO2024 to kick off the day. Thank you, Minister Jones, for your ongoing support of quality of life, comfort, and compassion with Palliative Care Everywhere – meeting people wherever they are!

Holly Prince delivered an inspiring, educational and moving opening keynote, titled There is Medicine in Diversity: Creating Spaces and Places to Honour Indigenous Knowledges in Palliative Care. Holly was funny, she taught us, and she challenged us to continue to do better. The session ended with Holly inviting members of Indigenous communities to join her on stage for song and dance, demonstrating the healing power of Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing. A truly powerful experience.

After a full day of learning, we came back together to celebrate at our Awards Gala:

Day 3:

We re-introduced the always popular Healthcare, Innovation, and Technology Talks which are back this year for the first time since 2018:

  • Nancy Lefebre and Celina Carter of SE Health discussed the Reflection Room – an arts-based unfacilitated storytelling initiative that increases comfort talking about dying, death, and grief, and also supports coping with grief.
  • Darren Cargill captured our attention in a way that only he can, by presenting his thoughts on artificial intelligence and palliative care (Do robot palliative care doctors dream of electric sheep?).
  • Sarah Klink and Amy Clements-Cortes shared innovations in songwriting with the dying and bereaved and treated us to live and recorded performances of songs co-written with individuals at end of life.

We enjoyed one final round of concurrent sessions, before coming back together to congratulate our Best Poster and Best Oral Papers winners.

  • Best Poster Presentation: Advance Care Planning Education for Primary Providers in Northeastern Ontario by Dr. Caroline Duquette, Barbara Ballantyne, Traci Franklin, Michael Roach, Renee Mallet, Rebecca Chau, Nathalie Chisholm, Dr. Marion Maar, Lisa Boesch, Dr. Christine Pun
  • Best Oral Paper Presentation: Hospice@Home – Improving Access for an Underserved Community by Dipti Purbhoo, Beatrise Edelstein
  • Best Oral Paper Presentation: Supporting Older Adults with Cancer and Their Support Person Through Geriatric Assessment and Remote Exercise and Education: The SOAR Study by Nirusha Jebanesan, Martine Puts, Shabbir Alibhai

Ivan Joseph, an award-winning performance coach, consultant, prominent educator, and accomplished leader, kept us energized right after lunch as he delivered our closing keynote. He reminded us to ignore the distractions and remember the power of positivity!

Members of our Program Advisory Committee closed out the day by announcing the date of #HPCO2025: June 8 -10, 2025.

A special thank you to our Conference Co-Chairs, Nadine Valk and Christopher Klinger and our Program Advisory Committee:

  • Erin Donald, PhD
  • Michelle Everets
  • Rick Firth
  • Val Fiset, PhD
  • Melissa Horner
  • Amanda Maragos
  • Nadine Persaud, PhD
  • Christine Pun, MD
  • Jitin Sondi, MD

Thank you once again to our Presenting Sponsor, Saint Elizabeth Foundation, and our Care Champion Sponsors Umano Medical and Mount Pleasant Group. We couldn’t do this without your support!

See you next year!

Land Acknowledgement

As conference delegates gather from across Ontario and other parts of Canada, we are gathering on lands that have been home to First Nations Peoples from time immemorial. Hospice Palliative Care Ontario acknowledges that our conference taking place in what we now call Richmond Hill, is on the Treaty Lands and Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and the Mississauga and Chippewa Nations of the Williams Treaty. We also recognize that Richmond Hill is on part of the traditional territories of the Haudenosaunee and the Huron-Wendat.


Presenting Partner Sponsor:



Care Champion Sponsors:

Conference Highlights

Sunday Opening Keynote Panel
Sunday, June 9,  10:00  a.m. 

Palliative Care Everywhere, For Everyone

What does palliative care everywhere mean globally, nationally, and provincially? How can we meet the needs of people who are becoming increasingly diverse, facing structural challenges, and requiring specialized care? Join Helen Simmons, CEO of St. Christopher’s Hospice, UK, Nancy Lefebre, COO of SE Health and the Saint Elizabeth Foundation, Susan Blacker, Provincial Clinical Co-Lead and Deanna Bryant, Group Manager of the Ontario Palliative Care Network for an engaging panel discussion on how to truly make palliative care inclusive and available for all people in need. Drawing on more than 100 years of shared palliative care expertise, this discussion will provide an overview of the challenges in hospice palliative care and then delve into opportunities to improve access for equity deserving communities and better serve our diverse populations in Ontario, Canada, and beyond. 


Carmelita Lawlor Lectureship in Palliative Care 
Sunday, June 9,  4:15 p.m.  

Leonie Herx, MD, PhD, CHE, CCFP(PC) FCFP
Palliative Medicine Consultant Physician

Palliative care for all – transforming culture, building bridges.

Making quality palliative care accessible for all, everywhere, requires the development of a sustainable, integrated model of primary and specialist palliative care that engages with and builds bridges across all disciplines and settings of care. 

Drawing on her work in establishing national standards for palliative care and program development across different provinces and regions for adult, pediatric, and a variety of underserved populations, Leonie will discuss the role of education, competency, and quality standards in building capacity and improving access to palliative care in Canada. She will also share her experiences, including successes and lessons learned, in engaging with health and social care system leaders, providers, and community groups on their responsibility for strengthening and championing equitable palliative care for all the people they serve. 




Monday Morning Keynote 
June 10, 2024 – 9:00 am – 10:15 am

Holly Prince

There is Medicine in Diversity: Creating Spaces and Places to Honour Indigenous Knowledges in Palliative Care

Embracing a health equity-oriented approach to palliative care is a crucial step toward improving the health outcomes and end-of-life care of Indigenous Peoples. This approach would challenge the colonial systems that have created disparities for Indigenous Peoples and ensure that care reflects their physical, cultural, and social experiences, values, and beliefs. The care would be grounded in Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing, recognizing Indigenous Knowledges as a valuable source of wisdom and guidance for the health and wellness, caregiving practices, and dying and death experiences of Indigenous Peoples. The foundation of frameworks and approaches to care would be based on spirituality, kinship, and relational accountability. It is imperative that we adopt a health equity-oriented approach to provide equitable and culturally safe-r care for Indigenous peoples as they journey back to the spirit world. By integrating Indigenous Knowledges and practices into healthcare and prioritizing diversity, equity, and cultural safety, we can improve outcomes for patients, providers, and the healthcare system as a whole.

Tuesday Closing Keynote 
June 11, 2024 – 1:00 p.m.

Dr. Ivan Joseph Ph.D., MS 
Award-Winning Performance Coach | Leadership and Cultural Transformation Expert

An award-winning coach, prominent educator, and accomplished leader, Dr. Ivan Joseph has spent his career leading cultural transformation and building cohesive teams. His research has focused on understanding how self-confidence drives performance and now, as an internationally renowned speaker, he shares this knowledge to help leaders cultivate inclusive, high-performing workplace cultures. Dynamic and engaging, Joseph always leaves audiences with a memorable experience that adds value long after the presentation ends.