Our Voice is Your Voice, Your Voice is Our Voice

CARP’s VP Advocacy Susan Eng talks to the Retired Teachers of Ontario at their Annual General Meeting in Toronto. Thank you for the opportunity of sharing with you CARP’s New Vision of Ageing for Canada. Those in attendance at the AGM on May 6th, 2008 will have listened to our Executive Director, Moses Znaimer, describe what it means to be a Zoomer, a Boomer with zip.

There is no doubt that you share the optimism and the can-do attitude that typifies Zoomers. And with good reason. On this your 40th Anniversary, the Retired Teachers of Ontario have a secure pension, your own gold standard health plan and the support and fellowship of 60,000 members throughout the province.

Your political clout is legendary and with all this in your corner, you could ask what do you need to fight for?

I have worked with many of you over the years on any number of social justice causes. So I know that your culture of caring extends well beyond that of your own well being – you have been active players for the cause of social change.

Here’s where the social mission of CARP aligns with yours. CARP’s New Vision of Ageing for Canada is aimed at improving the quality of life for all Canadians as we age. Our Advocacy agenda targets equitable and timely access to high quality health care, financial security for everyone and protection of our rights – to keep working and to be free from elder abuse, ageism and other forms of discrimination.

Health Security Goals

Good health is a fundamental determinant of quality of life.

To ensure good health as people age, there must be equitable and timely access to high quality health care. CARP initiated the No More Waiting Campaign during the previous provincial election to press for wait time guarantees, more access to doctors and better access to diagnostic services like PET scans. Ontario is dead last among the provinces in providing this much needed diagnostic tool and the issue has now caught the attention of the Ontario Ombudsman. CARP has already been in contact with Andre Marin’s office and we will be providing whatever input will help move this file along.

Five years after the Minister of Health committed to improving long term care to let people live out their lives in dignity and safety, we are still seeing news stories of appalling neglect. Better monitoring and enforcement is needed along with better funding.

The recent Ontario Budget announced increases to long term care funding that sounded great: $500 million over 4 years for 9,000 nurses, of which 2,000 are for long term care – but when distributed over 622 long term care homes and 75,868 long term care beds in Ontario, this amounts to about 1.04 minutes of care more per resident. This is just not good enough.

The Ageing at Home strategy is a major step in the right direction and is something that CARP has advocated for some time. But there must also be a larger strategy to improve financial and workplace support for family caregivers, reliable and timely information on caregiver services and integration with the medical care system. For its own part, CARP will be launching a caregiver portal on our website to provide timely information and help people connect to the services they will need.