“I regret to say preparing for Canada’s aging society has become a race against the clock,” Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti said in a pre-budget submission to the Commons finance committee.
The first wave of the baby boomer generation turned 67 this year. By 2031, seniors will account for a quarter of Canada’s population, nearly double the 14% of 2009 —when seniors were already accounting for 45% of provincial and territorial health expenditures.
“It is not hard to do the math on what this trend will do to the sustainability of our health care system in less than two decades,” Dr. Francescutti added. “And it is not hard to understand why the CMA is strongly urging the federal government to invest in a pan-Canadian strategy for continuing care focused on seniors.”
The CMA believes Ottawa is best positioned to take the lead in bringing together all levels of government to develop and execute a pan-Canadian strategy to integrate everything from home and long-term care to end-of-life and palliative care, Dr. Francescutti said.
“This is about spending smarter as much it is about investment.”
For example, elderly Canadians who are not acute care patients occupy hospital beds for 3 million bed-days a year when they should be in long-term or assisted home care. A hospital bed costs the system $846 a day versus $126 a day for a long-term bed. Making more long-term beds and home care assistance available to seniors could save up to $2.3 billion a year.
But up-front investment is needed to ensure there are available options to hospital bends and prepare for a “tsunami of coming demand for seniors care in the future,” Dr. Francescutti said.