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CMA continues to push premiers and make gains on seniors care

Alignment between provincial and territorial premiers and the Canadian Medical Association in calling for better funding for seniors care across the country is becoming ever closer.

Following the first day of the annual gathering of the premiers at the Council of the Federation meeting in St. John’s, the premiers called on the federal government to increase its share of health care spending to meet the needs of the aging population.

At the same time, CMA President Chris Simpson was calling for a “demographic top-up transfer” to Canada Health Transfer payments to allocate payments based on the number of seniors in the jurisdiction.

In a communique, the premiers urged the federal government to commit to increasing CHT payments so they represent 25% of all health care spending by provinces and territories.

As justification for this, the premiers cited the aging population and increasing demands for home care, palliative care, and support for informal caregivers.

These are all areas the CMA has noted require action through the development of a national seniors care strategy.

Simpson discussed the need to realign transfer payments based on regional demographics at a seniors care roundtable co-hosted by the CMA, Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association and the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) running parallel to the Council of the Federation meeting.

“The problem with the current transfer model is that it does not account for those segments of the population that require more care than others, such as seniors,” said Simpson. “In Newfoundland and Labrador, seniors represent 17.7 per cent of the population yet simultaneously account for almost half of health care costs. This situation repeats itself as you travel across the country.”

Simpson said the 2007 decision by the federal government to distribute CHT funds on a per capita basis, beginning in 2014 has left those provinces and territories with older populations starting to feel the pinch.

More than 80 individuals from the public, stakeholder and political community attended the seniors roundtable and shared views related to the need for a national seniors strategy.

The Minister of Seniors, Wellness and Social Development for the province, the Hon. Clyde Jackman and the Parliamentary Secretary of the Minister of Health, Kevin Pollard, the Mayor of St. John’s Dennis O'Keefe and other members of the provincial legislature were in attendance at the meeting.

During the Council of the Federation meeting, Simpson also had an opportunity to meet with New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant to discuss the upcoming CMA roundtable on seniors care to be held in Fredericton, Sept. 22. Simpson also met with PEI Premier Wade MacLauchlan, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Paul Davis and Yukon Premier Darrell Paslowski.

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