OTTAWA, Nov. 12, 2014 /CNW/ - The federal government must begin investing now in long-term care infrastructure and make significant new investment in in programs for home and community care, Dr. Chris Simpson, president of the Canadian Medical Association, said today.
Otherwise the viability of the nation's universal health care system will be threatened as the proportion of Canadians over age 65 continues to grow.
"Much is being made of the 'new mediocre' facing world economies, but right now Canada is asking far too many seniors and their families to endure mediocre access to care," Dr. Simpson said in commenting on the latest federal fiscal update. "We need to start making smart investments now or health care costs will continue to grow while still failing to meet the growing and evolving needs of our aging population."
Canada's 5.2 million citizens over age 65 represent almost 15 per cent of the population and account for almost half the health costs. By 2036, those over 65 will account for almost a quarter of the population.
Canada needs to start spending smarter and adjusting our health care system for chronic care of the aging, he said.
"Because we are not prepared, 15 per cent of our acute-care hospital beds are occupied by people who should be either at home with support services or in long-term care," he added.
"We are warehousing seniors in hospitals at $1,000 a day when long-term care would cost $155 and home care $55. We need to spend smarter."
Dr. Simpson said he was glad to see that the fiscal update documents make note of the government's aim to retain the ability to respond to such challenges as population aging.
However, the CMA will be looking for detailed provisions in the next federal budget for enhanced seniors care and continued health care improvements, he said.
Dr. Simpson said the inability to care for seniors properly is the real reason behind long wait times. "Wait times are not the price of public health."
Polling, commissioned by the CMA, has repeatedly revealed widespread anxiety among Canadians about their future health care in their retirement years.
Most recently, a Nanos poll conducted in the two Nov. 17 byelection ridings of Whitby-Oshawa and Yellowhead found that 36 per cent of respondents felt Ottawa has done a poor job in preparing for future health care needs during their retirement. Twenty-two per cent thought the federal government was doing a good or very good job.
In addition, one in two voters (55 per cent) was willing to change political brands if their party did not make seniors care a priority in the next federal election.
Furthermore, a Nanos poll — again commissioned by the CMA — found that voters in the 26 ridings where the margin of victory in 2011 was three per cent or less also had concerns about their future health care.
Just 23 per cent in the key ridings thought Ottawa was ready for the future health care needs of the older generation.
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.
SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association
For further information: Lucie Boileau, Senior Advisor Communications and Public Outreach, Canadian Medical Association, Email: [email protected], Tel: 613-731-8610 ext. 1266, Cell: 613-447-0866