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​Canadians support topping up federal health care funding for provinces and territories with older populations

Three-quarters (74%) of Canadians agree that provinces and territories should receive "topped up" federal funding that is tied to their proportion of elderly citizens, in order to meet the growing and evolving health care needs of these residents.

That was one of the key findings to emerge from the CMA's 16th Annual National Report Card on Health Care. This year's survey focused on solutions to address the health care needs of Canada's aging population that could be included in the soon-to-be negotiated Health Accord between the federal, provincial and territorial governments.

Canadians continue to rank health care as their top concern (42% vs. 34% for unemployment, the next highest rated priority) and the CMA report card found that most agree that improving access to doctors, investing in a national seniors strategy and creating a new prescription drug plan are key areas requiring action.

"Governments at all levels have a real opportunity to act now to improve health because Canadians agree that fixing health care is a priority and they agree on the areas for action," said CMA President, Dr. Cindy Forbes.

A key element of past Health Accord discussions has been money and that is likely to be an issue again. Canada's provincial and territorial premiers have recently called for the federal government to increase the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) to 25% of provincial and territorial health care costs to address the needs of the country's aging population.

While recognizing that as an equal per-capita based transfer, the CHT does not currently account for population segments with increased health needs, notably seniors, the CMA has suggested "topping up" federal funding instead of adjusting the transfer formula.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has charged federal Health Minister Dr. Jane Philpott with securing a new accord by the end of this year. While this new agreement is a priority for the government, the report card found that just 15% of Canadians say they are aware of these upcoming discussions between their governments.

"Awareness of the Health Accord among the public is low but the CMA contends that a new accord between the federal, provincial and territorial governments emphasizing seniors is essential to the future success and sustainability of our health care system," added Dr. Forbes.

Canada's next Health Accord will be a key topic of discussion during the CMA's 149th annual meeting, taking place Aug. 21-24 in Vancouver.

Forward any comments about this article to: cmanews@cma.ca.