Canadian Medical Association calls for national seniors strategy

Aug 25, 2015

The Canadian Medical Association says it has laid out a framework to address the growing health care needs of Canadian seniors, which it says is one of the most pressing issues of our time.

The association says the nation’s population is in the middle of a demographic shift, with the fastest growing segment being seniors.

Dr. Camille Haddad from Miramichi, N.B. joined colleagues from Alberta to make motions for the federal government to create a national seniors strategy.

Dr. Camille Haddad from Miramichi hopes the federal government will create a national seniors strategy

“Someone termed it as a ‘tsunami of seniors’ coming, and we have to deal with it in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia [and] P.E.I.,” said Haddad. “We're the ones who are going to suffer the most with it.”

Haddad and his colleagues are looking for better support for caregivers of seniors, and to better organize and equip hospitals to make them more accessible.

He says a national strategy is important.

“You will come up with ways that we can learn from each other, we can take the best practices of each province and put it together,” said Dr. Haddad.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Canada’s population is 15 per cent seniors that occupy about 45 per cent of all health care spending.

It says a quarter of our population will be over 65 by 2036.

Nova Scotia Health Minister Leo Glavine supports the medical association’s approach. He says his counterparts in Atlantic Canada agree.

“The premiers in Atlantic Canada have challenged the health ministers to provide some concrete measures that they can bring in and start to introduce as an Atlantic region,” said Glavine.

The health minister says Canada is moving into an era where senior’s needs will dominate the health care system.

“It’s incumbent upon all of us as ministers to respond and to find a partner in Ottawa that will say senior care matters and should be a high priority,” he said.

Canadian Medical Association President Dr. Chris Simpson says they need strong political leadership. He says there have been a few encouraging things in the last few days.

“We know [the government is] thinking about it,” he said. “We know their heart’s in the right place. We want to start talking about it in the context of an election campaign so people can cast their votes accordingly.”

The framework touches on six key areas, including wellness and prevention, acute and specialty care, as well as end of life care.

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