Health care isn’t what it used to be. The population changes, knowledge grows, and our needs adapt. Here is some of what we’ve been learning.
- People can now live longer and healthier lives.
- Many conditions that once caused early death can be managed in the community.
- Health depends as much on income, housing, and safety as on care from doctors and hospitals.
- Older adults are healthier, happier, and more productive in their own homes and communities.
- Supporting people to remain at home costs less than caring for them in institutions.
The system we built for previous generations no longer works for this one. The needs of today’s (and tomorrow’s) older Canadians are larger than any neighbourhood, any community, or any province, so we need larger approaches. This is the time for a national seniors strategy.
Canada’s federal government has demonstrated leadership in important areas. One example is enforcing human rights. Older Canadians need that leadership now.
Care Watch calls for Canada to work with provincial and territorial governments and with stakeholders to develop, adopt, and act on a national seniors strategy.
The Alliance for a National Seniors Strategy has suggested four pillars of a strategy: independent productive, and engaged citizens; healthy and active lives; care closer to home; and support for caregivers.
We believe a seniors strategy must also be true to the Canada Health Act. All older Canadians must have equitable access, with no financial hardship, to the services that protect, promote, and restore well-being.
The strategy can serve as an umbrella for initiatives that address specific settings or conditions (for example, providing funding for dementia support). Overall, it should focus on:
- Preventing disease and managing chronic conditions
- Recognizing the importance of non-medical factors – for example, income, safety, and the environment – on older adults and their health
- Improving access to prescription medications
- Basing care on what patients want, on clinical expertise, and on the best available research
- Improving work conditions and supporting both paid and unpaid caregivers
- Making services accessible, flexible, and consistent
- Holding providers to account and making them report on results of what they do with public funds
What can you do about a national seniors strategy? First, talk to people – your family, friends, neighbours, colleagues – about why we need a seniors strategy. Second, ask questions, lots of questions. Whenever possible, ask candidates:
- What is your party’s plan for older adults. Exactly how would your government meet their needs?
- Do you and your party support the idea of a national seniors strategy? How will you make it happen?
- What can older adults expect from you?
To find your riding, contact Elections Canada. Enter your postal code in the Voter Information Service box to find your federal electoral district. Under Voter Registration Service, register or update your voting information.
Ask, think, and then vote!