The Canadian Medical Association’s nation-wide tour stopped off in Quebec City for a public roundtable on the biggest challenge facing Canada today: “ensuring our health care system has the capacity to meet the changing needs of an aging population,” in the words of CMA Board member Dr. Pierre Harvey.
“We have to use this federal election campaign to remind all the parties that a national seniors strategy is absolutely essential,” Dr. Harvey continued. He urged voters to make sure that they know what politicians and political parties have promised when it comes to health and seniors care before deciding who to vote for.
Organized by Réseau FADOQ, an association of Quebecers age 50 and over, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the Québec Medical Association (QMA), the roundtable was attended by representatives of the Quebec government, the Quebec Liberal Party, the Parti Québécois, and Coalition Avenir Québec, all of whom say they understand the importance of seniors care.
“The situation here in Quebec is even more alarming than elsewhere in Canada. Currently, Quebec has 1.2 million people over 65, and that number will grow by 1 million by the year 2031—an 80 per cent increase. That makes us the
Canadian province with the fastest-aging population, second only to Japan on the world stage,” explained QMA president Dr. Yun Jen.
Participants also discussed potential solutions to help seniors age well and to delay, or even diminish, the effects of chronic disease. These included a greater focus on wellness and prevention as well as on making communities more age-friendly. “These are just a few of the factors that need to be part of a national seniors strategy. Along with increased availability of home care as well as more social and financial support for informal caregivers, we can start to truly care for our seniors in the way they deserve.”
Réseau FADOQ executive director Danis Prud’homme, who is in constant contact with Quebec seniors, is clear: “We knew the population was aging, and nothing was done to mitigate the impacts. Now it's crunch time! We have to tackle the problem of seniors care head on, and we have to do it now. Unless we come up with a plan, our seniors will continue to suffer.”
He also stressed how difficult it can be for informal caregivers, mostly women, who first face a loss of income and then often become ill themselves. “Before dying with dignity, can we find a way to live with dignity? It’ll take a plan!”
You can add your voice to the call for a national seniors strategy at www.demandaplan.ca.