OTTAWA, Nov. 26, 2013 /CNW/ - New data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that points to increasing poverty among Canadian seniors underlines the country's urgent need for a national seniors care strategy, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) said today.
The report found that although poverty rates among seniors fell in many OECD countries between 2007 and 2010, in Canada they actually rose by about two percentage points. The CMA says rising poverty rates will put even greater strain on Canada's health care system, particularly given that patients age 65 or older already account for nearly half of Canada's health care spending (45% in 2009).
"By 2036 one-quarter of Canadians will be over the age of 65," said CMA President Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti. "That is why the CMA has called on the federal government to collaborate with provincial, territorial and municipal governments to establish and invest in a pan-Canadian strategy for seniors' care."
Describing the OECD finding as "alarming," Dr. Francescutti noted that a recent CMA report, What Makes us Sick, identified poverty as a key factor causing people to suffer poor health.
In its submission to the federal government's planning process for the 2014 budget, the CMA called on Ottawa to develop a strategy that includes adequate investment in long-term care, home care and palliative and end-of-life care to ensure access to the continuum of care. There should also be investment in programs to address age-related health risks of particular concern, notably dementia and injuries due to falls.
"We know that nine out of 10 Canadians (93%) believe Canada needs a pan-Canadian strategy for seniors' health care at home, hospitals, hospices and long-term facilities," said Dr. Francescutti, quoting a recent Ipsos Reid poll. "We also know a similar percentage of Canadians (89%) believe a national strategy for seniors should involve all levels of government.
"So what's the hold up? Clearly the time to act is now."
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 51 national medical organizations. CMA's mission is to serve and unite the physicians of Canada and be the national advocate, in partnership with the people of Canada, for the highest standards of health and health care.
SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association
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