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Federal Election 2021: Seniors Health Care issues

Long Term Care

  • We need to have an absolute guarantee from the federal, provincial and territorial government in Canada that they will work together to ensure that that the human rights of all seniors in long-term care are respected and that residents in long-term care have a good quality of life and are treated with the dignity and care they need and deserve. The terrible suffering of so many seniors in long-term care in Canada exposed during COVID-19 must never happen again.
  • We want our governments to stop playing political games and work together to agree on and implement National Standards for Long-term Care and a Long-term Care Act and to do this as a matter of urgency and in an open and transparent way.
  • We know that successive Canadian governments deliberately chose to spend much less on long-term care than have other OECD countries. Now (August 4, 2021) the Parliamentary Budget Officer has calculated that Canada currently spends about half of what is needed to improve Long-Term Care.  We believe that increased Federal funding for seniors care must come with strong accountability measures.
  • One undeniable result of our governments’ lack of investment in long-term care is that the number of deaths from COVID-19 of seniors in Long-Term Care in Canada was very much higher than in other OECD countries and the vast majority of all deaths from COVID-19 in Canada in 2020 were seniors in long-tem care.
  • A lack of government oversight of long-term care has allowed for-profit companies, sometimes foreign-owned, to grow unchecked using the scant public dollars allocated for long term care to provide returns to their investors by restricting required services for residents and by providing low levels of pay and bad working conditions for staff.
  • We want the for-profit long-term care industry to be phased out completely.
  • We need all levels of government to keep us informed and to be transparent about the on-going decisions they make to transform Long-Term Care in Canada.

Question for Candidates:

What will you do if elected to ensure that adequate funding and the reform of Long-Term Care are priorities for our federal government and to ensure that all levels of government in Canada work together as a matter of urgency to implement the needed changes?

Home Care/ Home Support

  • Most seniors want to live in their own homes as long as possible. Most are able to so.  However, many seniors have chronic health problems and need different degrees of assistance to be able to do so safely and enjoy a reasonable quality of life.
  • Whether they are able to do so or not in Canada usually depends on their income-level and/or the availability of family support. Given the very low levels of funding for home care/ home support provided by the governments of our provinces and territories, and that most younger family members are employed and may not be geographically close, seniors can become isolated and struggle to survive at home.
  • Many low-income seniors are women living on their own who are not able to access the home care they need to continue to live independently. It is therefore not surprising that two thirds of the residents of Long-Term Care are women and that about 25 percent of residents could live in their own homes if they had adequate support, according to the BC Seniors’ Advocate.
  • The Parliamentary Budget Officer among others has noted that the cost to the public purse of caring for a resident in Long-Term Care is greater than the cots of providing adequate home support services. We need our governments to pledge that they will fund home care and support at the levels that are needed to ensure a decent life for all seniors regardless of income-level

Questions for Candidates

What if elected will you do to ensure home care/ home support for seniors is a priority and receives additional and adequate funding?

How will you work to ensure public accountability for this additional spending?

Dental Care and Hearing Aids

  • We want dental care and hearing aids to be provided under the Canada Health Act.
  • A long-standing policy of the National Pensioners Federation and COSCO B.C. is to work to ensure that all seniors have access to dental care and the hearing aids that many urgently need but cannot afford to buy.
  • Dental care in North America is very expensive and even moderate-income seniors who are missing teeth and cannot chew properly or have a mouth or gum infection may be unable to afford the dental care they need to remain healthy.
  • Low-income seniors and the many seniors without an extended health care plan needing urgent treatment have to go to hospital emergency departments where they can get tooth extractions and antibiotics at no cost.
  • Hearing aids are expensive. Seniors with hearing issues who cannot pay can become isolated from family and friends and cannot participate in the life of their community.

Question for Candidates

Will you work to ensure that dental care and hearing aids become part of the Canada Health Act?

Other key seniors health issues we are working on include:

  • National Pharmacare
  • The need to control very high and ever-rising prescription drug prices
  • Seniors’ mental health
  • A UN Convention on the human rights of older adults
  • Virtual care and the quality of care provided to seniors
  • Global warming and high rates of deaths of low-income seniors from heat exhaustion.

Kathleen Jamieson, Chair COSCO Health Committee

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