National Advance Care Planning Day

April 16, 2016

What’s your excuse?

I’m too busy. It’s bad luck. I’m too young. Those are just a few of the reasons that Canadians have for not having conversations with loved ones about what might happen if they couldn’t make medical decisions for themselves. But now there’s a perfect time to stop making excuses and start talking: April 16th – National Advance Care Planning Day.

Advance Care Planning is a process of reflecting on and communicating your future health care wishes to others. An important part of advance care planning is deciding on your Substitute Decision Maker, the person who will make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so.

It’s easy to make excuses – we are too busy, we think it’s depressing, we’ll do it later.  But the reality is that you really don’t know when something might happen to you and you are unable to speak for yourself. Who would make those decisions for you? Do they know your wishes and what to say?

Why is this so important? Research has shown that advance care planning significantly reduces stress, depression and anxiety in family members and caregivers who know your wishes and can act with confidence on your behalf.[1] Imagine how stressful it could be for them to make these decisions without being sure about what you would want.

Need help getting started? Visit for great information, workbooks, videos, conversation starters and legal requirements and local resources in each province and territory. You can also find a national interactive workbook at to guide you through the process and help you share your thoughts with others.

National Advance Care Planning Day is the perfect time to have these important conversations with your Substitute Decision Maker and others. It’s time to stop making excuses – and start talking.


[1]  Heyland, DK, Allan DE, Rocker G, Dodek, P, Pichora D, Gafni A. Discussing prognosis with patients and their families near the end of life. Impact on satisfaction with end of life care. Open Medicine 2009, 3(20:71-80)