Canada’s Aging Population – Our system isn’t ready

Categories: Care.

In order to be able to effectively address this shift, Canada needs to invest in training gerontologists, therapists, psychiatrists and palliative care nurses. Not only is this necessary to respond to the increased demand for health care, but to replace the rapidly aging workforce in the health care system. Many worry that the current structure of Canada’s health care system is not designed to address these upcoming needs. Sharon Carstairs, the first female leader of Manitoba’s Liberal party in the 1980s, says “We don’t have a health care system in Canada, we have an acute care system”, explaining that while those who are very sick are well cared for through our health system, Canada does a poorer job of ensuring that those facing age-related illnesses are able to stay at home and out of high-cost facilities. Although concerns of how Canada will address the needs of its rapidly aging population are warranted, Andrew Wister from Simon Fraser’s gerontology department discourages people from falling into the view of “apocalyptic demography” that creates the image of a “tsunami of aging boomers overwhelm Canada’s health care system.” Instead, Wister points to other factors such as rising drug costs, doctor salaries and costs of technology which he says will play a larger role in driving up cost than aging. Wister also criticizes that Canada’s home care sector currently has few standards that are applied across the country. Despite the specific factor that will create the most strain on Canada’s healthcare system, the bottom line remains the same; the degree to which Canada prepares for a significant shift in its demographics will literally mean life or death for many Boomers.   

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