CMA, CARP looking to get seniors’ care on byelection agenda

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and retiree advocates CARP are teaming up to force seniors’ care onto the agenda of four federal byelections this month, using them as a trial run for the 2015 federal election.

The two organizations’ “Seniors Care Challenge” asks the candidates in the June 30 byelections in Trinity-Spadina and Scarborough-Agincourt, Ont., and Macleod and Fort McMurray-Athabasca, Alta., to support 12 issues related to seniors’ care. These include national strategies for seniors’ care and dementia, a federal role for setting standards and funding, pharmacare, an improved pension system, and “an immediate national conversation on end of life care, choices, rights.”

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“2015’s supposed to be a big election year and lessons learned from this pilot will hopefully be applied for all candidates across the country raising issues,” CMA president Dr.Louis Hugo Francescuttisaid in an interview. “We think that Canadians themselves will make this an issue so with CARP and the CMA reinforcing that message, hopefully politicians will start addressing this issue seriously.”

The advocacy campaign involves a series of ads that highlight the ridings’ aging demographics, as well as a website that will list candidate responses to the issues.

“Almost of a third of Macleod residents are over 55,” says the ad in that riding, which is designed to look like a physician’s notepad. “So how come federal politicians don’t talk more about seniors care? We wondered too.”

The ads will be running in local weeklies theScarborough Mirror, theToronto CityCentre Mirror, theHigh River Times, theOkotoksWestern, andFort McMurray Connect.

The CMA has been pushing seniors’ care as an election issue since April, when members presented a Nanos survey to Parliamentarians during a lobby day on the Hill. The survey polled electors 45 and older in 26 ridings where the margin of victory in the 2011 federal election was three per cent or less to show that seniors’ care could be an election-defining issue and that MPs would pay a price if their parties don’t take heed.

© The Hill Times