Why does Canada need a National Seniors Strategy?

What’s the problem? Why a national strategy? What difference does it make to me, as a senior in Ontario?

Canada needs a national seniors’ strategy that encompasses all aspects of seniors care, including long-term, palliative and home care.

Canadians throughout Ontario and across the country are living under a health and community care system that was created at a time, 50 years ago, when the population was young and the health care needs were of an acute, short term nature. Today, with the oldest baby boomers well in to their 70s, the demographic picture is very different. Health care needs are chronic, and instead of acute care in hospitals, our ageing population requires in-home care and community support services, and long-term and palliative care.

Under the jurisdiction of the provinces and municipalities, adapting the health and community care system to address these needs is proving difficult. Availability and access to care is inconsistent across Ontario and throughout the country and is particularly problematic for First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and for those living in rural and northern areas.

This is not just a “soft” values issue of equality of access for all Canadians.  It’s also a “hard” issue of costs to the system. Unavailability of service is ultimately very costly to us individually. Seniors who are denied access to the appropriate care or support when they need it, often end up turning to the over-burdened and expensive acute care system.  These costs are borne by us all. They also lose the ability to live full and productive lives, and thus we, as collective members of society, lose as well.

Over the years, the federal government has demonstrated that it can lead in key areas of social change, such as the delivery of health care, and the enforcement of human rights.  We need them now to set national principles and guidelines that define critical services, foster adequate provincial  funding for these services, and support and share information about innovative programs across the country so that all Canadians can benefit from new ideas and practices.

An election is a good time to let those wanting to represent us – and needing our votes – know what our interests are and to secure their commitment to act, if elected. http://bit.ly/2mgXfj0

Call for Members of the Board of Directors

Care Watch Ontario (CW), an advocacy organization, is seeking individuals who are enthusiastic, creative and committed to enhancing the lives of Ontario’s older adults.

About the Organization:

Care Watch Ontario is not-for-profit, volunteer-run, and senior-led. We advocate for high quality, affordable, and equitable home and community care for Ontario’s elderly. We monitor provincial policy, provide analysis and feedback to decision makers, and communicate with a range of audiences, including the general public. We have no political affiliation, but work with decision makers and politicians of all stripes to achieve our central goal – a home care system that supports dignified and safe ageing.

We believe that senior citizens should be involved in decisions about policies and practices that affect their lives and the lives of their community.

Skills and Experience

We welcome applicants of all ages from the diverse residents of Ontario who support our advocacy objectives. Board members must contribute actively by undertaking organizational tasks either individually or as work group members. Work includes examining and analyzing issues, developing advocacy and communications materials for governments and the public, and making presentations. Previous work or experience with non-profit and volunteer organizations, interest in seniors’ issues, and comfort working with computers and e-mail are also assets. We encourage persons with the following lived experiences to consider applying:

  • ethno-cultural diversity
  • identification as members of the LGBTQ2+ community
  • proficiency with languages in addition to English
  • comfort working with various cultures and communities

Time Commitment

Board members make a commitment to serving a two-year term, renewable up to six consecutive years.  The Board is a working volunteer group with a time commitment of a minimum of ten hours a month. This commitment includes:

  • Attending monthly Board meetings (usually the fourth Wednesday of every month, from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm). The Board meets in Toronto, but some members may be able to participate from a distance.
  • Contribution to task or working groups and other work, as needed

Please review our web site at www.carewatchontario.com to better understand our issues and advocacy.

Please submit your letter of interest and resume, in confidence, to Michèle Harding, Chair, at Chair@carewatchontario.com by October 31, 2019. Only selected candidates will be contacted for an interview.

Download the Call for Board of Directors.

Asking More Questions about Ontario Health Teams – What’s the Story?

Dr. Bob Bell (GP, surgeon, former hospital CEO, and former deputy minister of health) echoes Care Watch’s concerns about the proposed Ontario health teams (OHTs), which will take over the delivery of Ontario’s health services. In a September 4th opinion in the Toronto Star, Dr. Bell notes that the majority of proposed OHTs are hospital-led and, under the government’s “low rules environment”, no provision has been made to ensure resources for home care and community support services on a long-term basis. He notes that, “With the opportunity to realign budgets for provider organizations within a region, will hospitals be able to resist the temptation to consolidate regional budgets to gradually provide better hospital funding?” Given that, as Dr. Bell points out, hospitals also face underfunding, it will be very difficult for them to resist this temptation. This is of particular concern because “…85 per cent of home-care visits are provided to patients referred directly from the community with no hospital involvement”.  How will those visits be funded and protected? There is no clarity regarding the management of necessary home care and community support services. There is also no known provincial provision to ensure availability of the current $4 billion for home care/community support services.

Each OHT will create its own home care/community support service system. There is no clear provision for retaining current or improving standards respecting, for example, the range of services to be provided; levels of care; and PSW working conditions and compensation. There is no clear provision for consistency across teams.

Care Watch concurs with Dr. Bell – OHTs seem at risk of creating a fragmented, chaotic approach to provincial health services planning and delivery.

We need to ask:

  • How will resources for home care and community support services be secured and protected from absorption into hospital services?
  • How will people who need assistance get services if they are coming from the community rather than from a hospital?
  • What home care and community support services will be available to all Ontarians who need such services?
  • What level of care standards will be guaranteed?
  • What working conditions for PSW and other community workers will apply?