Critical conversations CARP had in Oct/Nov

Marissa Lennox with Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro

CARP National has been active in Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba meeting with provincial leaders to further CARP’s advocacy priorities.

Here is a summary of some of the most critical conversations we had:

Ontario: Executive Lead (Health Teams), Phil Graham

On Oct 25, 2019, Jana Ray and Marissa Lennox met with Executive Lead (Ontario Health Teams), Phil Graham to talk about Ontario’s health care transformation strategy, long-term care and how preventive health plays a key role in improving the health of Ontario’s seniors. Graham expressed a willingness to engage CARP members to inform decisions in filling the service gaps that plague our current health system. As the robust changes to the Ontario health system roll out, including the launch of regional health teams and disbanding of Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), we will continue to engage the Ontario government in critical conversations about the health care needs of our members.

Manitoba: Assistant Deputy Minister (Manitoba Ministry of Health, Seniors and Active Living), Avis Gray and Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Brent Roussin

On Nov 1, 2019, Jana Ray (Chief Benefits and Membership Officer) met with Assistant Deputy Minister (Manitoba Ministry of Health, Seniors and Active Living), Avis Gray to discuss CARP’s FACES advocacy platform, with a focus on exceptional health care for seniors. Equitable access to adult vaccinations and the unique needs of those living in rural communities was a focus, as Gray acknowledged that people living in urban centres are receiving better care than those outside of city limits (including underserved Indigenous communities). Gray was impressed with CARP’s advocacy platform, especially our work around vaccinations, and expressed a commitment to continue the province’s efforts to improve the lives of its older population. While improvements have been made in the areas of wait times and access to vaccinations for seniors in long-term care, more work and leading innovations are needed to ensure all of our members are healthy and safe in Manitoba.  

This conversation continued with Dr. Brent Roussin (Manitoba Chief Public Health Officer), who presented as a keynote speaker at our National Conversation on Preventive Health and Aging event in Winnipeg. During the session, Dr. Roussin identified that the high-dose flu vaccine is the best option for seniors over the age of 65.  He also acknowledged the promising results of Prevnar-13 over the currently funded pneumococcal vaccine (Pnuemovax), and that Shingrix was the best treatment against herpes zoster (shingles). He acknowledged to the event attendees that while these vaccines are an out of pocket expense in Manitoba, he is supportive of CARP’s work to secure access to these vaccines for seniors without financial barriers.

Alberta: Health Minister, Tyler Shandro 

On Nov 4, 2019, Marissa Lennox (Chief Policy Officer) met with Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro to introduce CARP’s advocacy platform, and discuss key priorities for CARP members in Alberta. A primary focus of the conversation was on ensuring affordable access to critical vaccinations for seniors. Minister Shandro expressed appreciation for the insight CARP provided around how critical the high-dose flu vaccine is in keeping seniors out of hospitals, along with the recommended vaccines for shingles and pneumonia. Also discussed was CARP’s concerns regarding the more than 48,000 older Albertans that are being kicked off the Seniors Drug Benefit Program, and the need to improve safety in long-term care, including by investing in our facilities, in staffing and in training. We will continue to work with the Alberta Government to improve the lives of older adults across the province, ensuring our members have the quality care they need, at home or in long-term care, to stay safe and healthy.