COVID-19 reinforced the need for a strong healthcare system and high-quality long-term care. Millions of Canadian seniors rely on healthcare to meet our everyday needs and expect it to be ready to address unexpected challenges.
The pandemic also showed us that Canada’s healthcare system is currently deficient and inadequate. As a result, our country paid a heavy price, particularly older Canadians, many of whom lost their lives or saw their health deteriorate.
And we continue to pay this price, as hospitals, political leaders and administrators struggle to catch up with hundreds of thousands of postponed surgeries, tests, and procedures, including for lethal diseases such as cancer.
We are now starting to discover the cost of decades of inaction. This is certainly not a new problem. Compared to other OECD countries, Canada has consistently ranked near the bottom when it comes to many key areas of the health system, including access to medical innovation and long wait times.
C.A.R.P. members want our leaders to AIM HIGHER FOR HEALTH. Below are the key results of a survey to which nearly 2,500 older Canadians responded:
- 9 in 10 believe access to new medicines and vaccines is critical to treating serious diseases such as cancer and dementia
- 9 in 10 agree that a future national pharmacare program should include comprehensive access to the best medicines, including new medicines
- A majority of those surveyed believe that a national pharmacare program should focus on reducing or eliminating co-pays while expanding coverage for those without insurance.
History demonstrates that major disasters can help inspire and drive change. We now have a unique opportunity to make the new investments and embrace the new technologies required to build the system Canadians want, need, and deserve.
The leaders of our country need to know that action is required now –to AIM HIGHER FOR HEALTH and Fix Healthcare Now. Federal and provincial governments are developing their budgets and plans. First ministers are meeting regularly on how to bolster our health and long-term care systems.
C.A.R.P. members are adamant in demanding speedy, measurable improvements in the interest of greater security, a better quality of life, and better access to innovative health care for older Canadians.
1. Boost investments in provincial health systems to clear the backlogs and build back better
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed multiple long-standing problems with Canada’s health care system and created new ones, such as a backlog that will take years to clear, leaving our already under-resourced health care system playing an endless game of catch up. Unfortunately, Canada is paying the price for having underinvested in its health care system and poorly allocated resources within that system.
This is a major concern for our members, as older Canadians are major consumers of health care services. In this context, C.A.R.P. supports provincial calls for the federal government to increase its share of health care costs to cover 35% of total health spending and to maintain this contribution level over time with a minimum annual escalator of 5%.
2. Make medical innovation widely available so seniors can be well
Canada’s healthcare has been notoriously slow in embracing innovation, and Canadians pay the price in diminished care and health outcomes. Shockingly, Canada ranks 18th out of 20 comparable countries when it comes to new medicine access. It can take us years longer to get access to new medicines already made available in other countries.
In technology, compared to other comparable countries, Canada ranks near the very bottom in number of MRI scanners, CT scanners and radiotherapy equipment per capita. At the most basic level, more than 4.6 million Canadians don’t have access to a regular family doctor, a recipe for a lack of prevention and care for problems when they could be most simply dealt with at the least cost.
During the pandemic we learned it doesn’t have to be like this, with Canada speeding up its processes for COVID vaccines and treatments and being a world leader in approving them and in getting them to Canadians in record time while using innovative ways to do so. We also saw how quickly doctors adapted to providing virtual care and even hospitals began caring for some of their patients while they remained at home.
We need to build on the momentum of collaboration and change that we’ve seen during the pandemic to examine how we can improve Canadians’ access to medical innovation, while addressing barriers to access, including cumbersome regulations, inefficient delivery, and other roadblocks to public funding.
3. Help seniors stay in their homes and reform long-term care by building and staffing critical infrastructure
The federal government has stated that home and community care are a priority. However, there appears to be a disconnect between this federal priority and implementation in our communities in terms of funding of health services at home and for long-term care.
Home and community care services remain underdeveloped, poorly funded, and difficult to access. A better funded and functioning home and community care system would enable Canadians to age at home with dignity and alleviate pressure on the long-term care system.
We need to support and scale best practices across Canada for the highest quality home and community care. We also need to take immediate steps to increase funding for home and community care, work with the provinces to improve access, and attract qualified personnel to home and community care.
CARP Advocacy on the Radio & TV
Watch Bill VanGorder, Dr. Gerald Batist, Trish Barbato, and Dr. Alan Low, have an in-depth discussion on Canadian healthcare and how to improve it.
Webinar Recorded on 04/28/2022