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National seniors strategy a ballot box issue for Canadians

The Canadian public continues to support the need for a seniors strategy to address the health needs of the growing number of older Canadians. And they want their federal candidates out on the hustings to make the issue an election priority.

These findings, from the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) 2015 National Report Card, provide strong validation for the organization continuing to advocate for seniors care and making the need for a national seniors strategy its main focus in the current election.

“With 90% of Canadians saying we need a national strategy on seniors health care, we know the CMA is taking the right path by making this an election issue,” said CMA President Chris Simpson.

“Given that 57% of Canadians polled … said their vote hinges at least in part on who has the best plan to address the issues, candidates (had) better be listening.”

In the online survey conducted in July, Ipsos Reid polled 2,008 adult Canadians 18 years or older on issues relating to seniors care and their general assessment of the health care system.

In addition to overwhelmingly supporting a national strategy on seniors care, 83% of respondents said they believe such a strategy will improve the whole health care system by finding ways to keep elderly patients at home longer.

Having governments focus on home care and community support to help seniors remain in their homes was identified as a priority by many of those polled. When presented with a variety of measures to improve seniors care, almost one-third selected home care and community support as the number 1 priority for governments.

Worries about the health care system’s capacity to meet the needs of an aging population and the burden placed on other family members were identified as concerns in the survey.

Three in five people polled said their family was well equipped or financed to care for older family members who might need long-term health care. Some 83% felt that a failure of federal and provincial governments to collaborate on improving seniors care would place a greater burden on younger family members.

“We’re well past the point where we can sit back and hope for the best in terms of meeting the health care needs of our aging population,” Dr. Simpson stated. “There’s an election on, Canadians want to know what their would-be leaders are going to do to meet this looming crisis.”

Seniors care is a major topic at the CMA’s annual general council meeting in Halifax, with educational and strategic sessions focusing on how best to address the issues and effectively lobby politicians to ensure the voice of Canadians is heard.

The survey findings are considered accurate to +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.