A major national roundtable on seniors care has been announced for Sept. 22, to be co-hosted by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS).
Invitations to the event in Fredericton have been sent to all three levels of government as well as dozens of health advocates, provider organizations, and patient representatives.
Topics to be discussed include defining the scope of the challenge and looking at provincial initiatives that may serve as models for the rest of the country. Delegates will be joined by a panel of regional and national health care experts.
The roundtable will also serve as an opportunity to strengthen the call for a National Seniors Strategy, which has been the major focus of the CMA’s advocacy efforts in recent months.
Announcement of the roundtable was made by CMA President Chris Simpson and NBMS President Camille Haddad in Fredericton and Simpson said the location for the event and its timing was very deliberate.
“New Brunswick is my home province and we are struggling, with our current health system, to care for the changing needs of seniors,” said Simpson at the news conference. “As someone who leads doctors around the country, I point often to New Brunswick as being the canary in the coal mine of what we know will occur in other provinces.”
New Brunswick is tied with Nova Scotia for having the oldest population in the country with 18.3% of the province’s population over the age of 65 years. In Fredericton, a quarter of all hospital beds are occupied by patients who do not medically need to be there and are waiting for a more appropriate place to continue their care.
“I think fixing seniors care here in New Brunswick will go a long way in helping the entire country,” said Simpson.
The September date, just weeks before the scheduled Oct. 19 federal election date, was selected to reinforce the CMA drive to make seniors care a ballot issue.
“The effects of caring for our increasing population of seniors ripple throughout the traditional health system,” said Haddad. “Seniors living in hospital who don’t want or need to be there pose a challenge to emergency rooms, surgery wait times, and physician recruitment.”
“All levels of government, health professionals, and patients will need to be involved to find cost-effective solutions to this challenge,” said the Honourable Victor Boudreau, Minister of Health for New Brunswick in a news release from the NBMS.
“There’s no better place in Canada to illustrate why we need federal action than New Brunswick,” said Simpson.
In his closing remarks, Simpson invited people to join the CMA campaign to make seniors care an election issue by visiting www.demandaplan.ca.