Senior Care is Key Election Issue in Canada

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Canada’s premiers have a new platform that’s garnering more and more attention as elections approach: senior care.

In the wake of study published in January that revealed medical treatment of elderly Canadians is lacking compared to other developed countries, Canada’s premiers have sought to place senior care in the limelight. This is no doubt in part due to academics protesting new changes to federal healthcare funding– changes that essentially punish provinces whose populations are mainly comprised of elderly adults.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information’s How Canada Compares report showed that Canadians aged 55+ wait longer for healthcare than their counterparts in eleven other equivalent countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. Over 50 percent of elderly patients wait more than two days for an appointment with a general practitioner, and a third wait six days or more. To see a specialist, the wait is even worse; a quarter of older adults wait upwards of two months.

The report comes after changes put into motion by the conservative government in 2011. These changes will cut approximately $36 billion in funding from Canada Health Transfer payments to provinces and territories between 2014-15 and 2023-24, in spite of a projected doubling in the amount of seniors by 2036, and a quadrupling of those over 85.

On top of a diminished pool of funding for healthcare costs, another change made in 2007 came into effect in 2014-15, which made it so that Canada Health Transfer payments are no longer increased in relation to a province’s weak economy. This resulted in a $1 billion boost in payments to Alberta, but cuts across all other provinces.

Advocates are seeking reforms in the system that would take into account age and remoteness of population when calculating the payments provinces receive. These reforms are expected to benefit seniors throughout Canada, but many say that they will gain the most popularity and traction in the Atlantic provinces, which have some of the oldest populations.

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