Armed with persuasive new polling data on the importance Canadians place on the care of seniors, more than 30 CMA members braved the wind and rain of Parliament Hill April 8 to put this and other issues squarely in front of Canada’s federal politicians.
During the CMA’s annual Doctors in the House lobby day on Parliament Hill, the physicians held more than 80 meetings with MPs and senators, and discussed issues ranging from the health concerns surrounding a rapidly aging population to the shortage of palliative care services in Canada.
“One of the reasons the CMA exists is to be the national voice of Canadian physicians,” said CMA Board Chair Dr. Brian Brodie, “and today this voice was heard loud and clear.”
President-elect Chris Simpson welcomed participating physicians to the Hill, and said seniors’ issues will be critical for the CMA during the next federal election, expected in 2015. “We have never been better prepared,” he said before the meetings with MPs and senators began.
Prior to those meetings, participants were supplied with new polling data from Nanos Research. The company had surveyed the public on behalf of the CMA in 26 “battlefield” ridings across Canada in which the margin of victory was 3% or less in the 2011 federal election.
Pollster Nik Nanos said the findings provided “a look under the hood at Canadians’ perceptions of health care for seniors, and a look at the political ramifications.”
The key results include:
- only 23% of respondents feel the federal government is ready to meet the future health care needs of Canadians
- 87% believe federal political parties should make care of seniors a top priority in the next election
- 87% support the CMA position calling for a pan-Canadian strategy on seniors’ care
Nanos said the findings indicated that Canadians are not prepared to raise taxes to fund seniors’ care, but support reduced government funding in other areas and the creation of tax-sheltered savings plans to help pay for seniors’ care.
During the lobby day physicians met with politicians from the three main parties, a list that included Rona Ambrose, the federal minister of health, and fellow cabinet ministers Gail Shea and Gary Goodyear. They also met NDP MP Thomas Mulcair, the leader of the official opposition, and MP Hedy Fry, the Liberal health critic.
Many of the participating physicians said the politicians they met had been receptive and engaged, and set aside extra time to discuss issues that were brought to their attention.