Recession challenge: Let's think about economic growth in an aging society, CMA says

OTTAWA, Sept. 1, 2015 /CNW/ - Canada's latest recession should prompt Canadians to think hard about how we grow the economy in an aging society — and how a revitalized health system can help, Dr. Cindy Forbes, president of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) said today.

"A healthy health care system has wide economic implications affecting everything from fiscal policy to labour output as the ratio of active members of the workforce to retired Canadians continues to decline,'' Dr. Forbes said.

Currently, there are about five working Canadians for every retiree. That ratio is expected to fall to 2.7 workers per retiree by 2030.

Dr. Forbes made the comments after Statistics Canada reported that the gross domestic product declined for a sixth straight month to fit the technical definition of an economic recession.

"Good social policy is good economic policy,'' she said.

"We can't continue to warehouse seniors in hospital beds at $1,000 a day when they should be in long-term care or home care at a fraction of the cost because we're not spending smart. Nor can we expect an army of informal caregivers to work 1.5 billion hours of unpaid work a year looking after loved ones and depriving the economy of productivity worth $1.3 billion."

As the federal Department of Finance noted in a 2012 report, unless productivity growth and labour market participation improve, population aging will lead to slower growth in output and income.

Canadians over 65 may represent 14 per cent of the population today, yet they account for almost half of our health costs. By 2036, seniors will have grown to 25 per cent of the population, accounting for 62 per cent of health costs unless governments start thinking differently, Dr. Forbes said.

"This is why the CMA is calling on all political parties in the current election campaign to reveal their plans for seniors care (go to: demandaplan.ca).

"We also believe the next federal government should sit down with the provinces and territories to develop a national seniors strategy soon after taking office," Dr. Forbes said.

Given the amount of medical and research expertise in this country, there is no reason why health and life sciences can't one day be a key economic driver, if Canadians start thinking hard about their future, she added.

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is the national voice of Canadian physicians. Founded in 1867, the CMA is a voluntary professional organization representing more than 80,000 of Canada's physicians and comprising 12 provincial and territorial medical associations and 60 national medical organizations. CMA's mission is helping physicians care for patients. The CMA will be the leader in engaging and serving physicians and be the national voice for the highest standards for health and health care.

 

SOURCE Canadian Medical Association

For further information: Email: mediainquiries@cma.ca, Tel: 613-806-1865

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