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2017: A year in review

In a year when Canada passed a demographic milestone, Canadian supporters of improved care for seniors made their voices heard loud and clear. Combined, these events made
2017 a year to remember.

In May, Statistics Canada announced that seniors now outnumber children in this country for the first time. Census results indicate there were 5.9 million Canadian seniors in 2016, compared with 5.8 million Canadians under the age of 15. What’s more, the census showed a 19.4 percent increase in those aged 85 or older.

Accordingly, throughout the year, seniors care ranked high among the issues the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) advanced with government, and the need for better care for
older Canadians garnered widespread endorsement by Demand a Plan supporters. Those supporters sent 77,773 letters in response to the health accord between the federal, provincial and territorial governments and the call for a national seniors strategy. Every Member of Parliament (MP) received at least one letter.

Much of the momentum in 2017 centred around a motion — introduced in Parliament by Liberal MP Marc Serré on February 24 — that officially called for a seniors strategy. With
support of the House of Commons, Serré’s motion led to a special study by the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

In the fall, CMA President Dr. Laurent Marcoux made remarks to the same standing committee on topics ranging from improved income security to more senior-friendly communities.

The CMA was also outspoken following the release of the federal budget on March 22. The organization expressed disappointment that the budget did not include funding for a national seniors strategy.

In the lead-up to the next federal budget, Dr. Marcoux appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance. In his submission he reinforced the challenges posed by the unprecedented growth in the number of Canadian seniors and made recommendations calling for more respite care services, additional support for caregivers and increased long-term care capacity for medically stable, elderly Canadians.

Looking ahead to 2018, it’s clear that those in favour of a realistic, long-term and well-financed plan for Canadian seniors still need to make their voices heard. Here on, we’ll continue to point the way and keep you informed of our progress.

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