Canadian Medical Association calls for national senior healthcare strategy

September 1, 2014 · Print This Article

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is calling for a comprehensive national strategy for senior healthcare. In its 2014 National Report Card, 95 percent of people over the age of 45 supported the formation of a national strategy for senior health care.

Canada’s aging health care system

Our health care system was created in the 1960’s. At that time, the average age was 27 and the system was designed to serve the needs of that age range by focusing on acute emergency care in hospitals. Now that the average Canadian age is 47, our needs have changed significantly and the focus can no longer be on acute care.

Dr. Chris Simpson, the President of the CMA, points out that “warehousing” seniors in emergency room hospital beds is wasting $2.3 Billion a year of taxpayer money. The CMA wants to see a national healthcare strategy that sees seniors getting the care they need. He says, “A patient in a hospital bed costs the system about $1,000 a day while long-term care costs about $130 a day and home care $55. We believe it is time all levels of government do the math and spend smarter.”

The population of Canadians 65 or older will double in the next 20 years, further compounding the current issues – and wasted money – in the Canadian health care system. According to Simpson, the only way to fight it is to create a national strategy for senior care with realistic and actionable goals.

Many baby boomers are currently caring for aging parents and are quickly becoming familiar with the inadequacies in the system that they themselves may face without necessary changes in place.

Quality end-of-life care a big issue

Good palliative care is only available to 16% of Canadians, according to the CMA Report Card. Simpson states that quality end-of-life care should not depend on what postal code you live in.

How the CMA plans to create a strategy

The CMA is hoping to make a national strategy for seniors care a focal point in the 2015 federal election. It is asking all political parties to state how they plan to address this issue in their policy platforms. While the onus for healthcare falls on provinces in the Canadian constitution, the CMA argues that federal support is needed to implement a strategy that works for all Canadian seniors.