The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and its provincial counterpart brought concerns about seniors care to the epicentre of the demographic storm that is Canada’s aging population during a well-attended public dialogue on the issue in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
Issues concerning seniors care are so important in New Brunswick – which shares the distinction of having the greatest proportion of over 65-year-olds in Canada – that Premier Brian Gallant and other senior provincial politicians were in attendance at the meeting hosted by the CMA and the New Brunswick Medical Society.
In his opening remarks, Gallant gave a strong endorsement of the work of the CMA and specifically its substantive proposals to improve the delivery of seniors care with refundable tax credits to caregivers and a demographic ‘top-up’ to transfer payments to support the provinces in delivering high quality care to their aging populations.
The public roundtable on seniors care, with more than 200 people in attendance, was the focal point of a series of important meetings on seniors care held over two days as the CMA continued its efforts to make the need for a national plan for seniors care an issue in the current federal election campaign.
“The CMA welcomes the fact that each party has made some commitment to health-related issues so far in this campaign,” said Simpson in his speaking notes, adding “As the campaign progresses we hope — we expect — all parties to make clear how they will step up to develop a national seniors strategy for Canada.”
At the public dialogue, the audience heard a panel of experts, in addition to Simpson, discuss the challenges in providing proper seniors care in New Brunswick.
Simpson touched on the magnitude of the issue in New Brunswick by noting that 25% of hospitalized patients can be better cared for elsewhere. However, he said, he felt New Brunswick could lead the country in successfully addressing the situation.
Also speaking on the panel were Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard, president of the Canadian Association of Gerontology, and Dr. Benjamin Hoyt, chief of surgery at Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital, Fredericton.
In conjunction with the meeting, the NBMS and CMA also released ‘Voices on Seniors Care’, a document compiling feedback from 15 leading organizations in the province on how to improve care for seniors.
Organizations ranging from the Canadian Diabetes Association to the Capital Region Senior and Retired Physicians Group presented essays in response to the question of what could be done differently to benefit seniors in New Brunswick.
Earlier in the day, Simpson met with a group of mainly retired New Brunswick physicians to hear their first-hand experiences around the challenges of providing the care needed to keep seniors in their homes and to explain the CMA position on the issues.
“We can’t be afraid to talk about this anymore,” said a geriatrician at the meeting in reference to how to better allocate resources and to determine whether there really is a need for more nursing home beds in the province.