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“Oldest” provinces need more transfer funds to look after seniors health care: CMA president

St. John’s, N.L. (July 16, 2015) – Canada’s “oldest” provinces and territories need more health transfer funds to look after their rapidly-growing seniors populations, Dr. Chris Simpson, president of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), said today.

Dr. Simpson made the comment at a seniors care roundtable organized by the CMA and the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) running parallel to the Council of the Federation summer meeting of provincial and territorial premiers.

“The problem with the current transfer model is that it does not account for those segments of the population that require more care than others, such as seniors,” said Dr. Simpson. “In Newfoundland and Labrador, seniors represent 17.7 per cent of the population yet simultaneously account for almost half of health care costs. This situation repeats itself as you travel across the country.” In the 2007 federal budget, the government announced that Canada Health Transfer (CHT) funds would be distributed to provinces and territories on a per capita basis, beginning in 2014. These changes have left those provinces and territories with older populations starting to feel the pinch.

Dr. Simpson said he was pleased that Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard planned to raise the issue of health care transfers to the older provinces at the premiers meeting. All 13 premiers should be pressing Ottawa for a new deal on health care transfers, Dr. Simpson added.

The CMA is proposing what it calls a “demographic top-up transfer” to the CHT, which would be allocated on the basis of the share of the population aged 65 and over.

“If we work under this model, every jurisdiction gains,” Dr. Simpson said.

At a special meeting in Ottawa last January, the premiers highlighted the needs of their aging populations and called on the federal government to provide funding in support of provincial and territorial services that enhance the well-being of Canada’s seniors.

“The CMA wants the Council of the Federation to build on the work they started in January and to promote the allocation of additional funding on the basis of the share of population aged 65 and over,” Dr. Simpson added.

Today’s event in St. John’s attracted more than 80 participants, including Newfoundland and Labrador Minister for Seniors, Wellness and Social Development, Clyde Jackman; several other MHAs; MP Ryan Cleary; Mayor of St. John’s Dennis O’Keefe; leaders of different labour and community organizations; and numerous engaged citizens.

The discussion will help shape the CMA’s and CASW’s work on a national seniors strategy. The two organizations are working together to make a national seniors strategy a key priority in the upcoming federal election.

“A national senior’s strategy must address the social determinants of health,” noted Fred Phelps, CASW Executive Director. “This demands moving federal leadership beyond transferring funds for health and social services to coordinating and sharing accountability for equitable access of services across Canada.”

The CMA and the CASW will continue to work with other organizations as well as with individual Canadians to encourage the federal government to put in place a comprehensive national seniors care strategy.

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is the national voice of Canadian physicians. Founded in 1867, the CMA is a voluntary professional organization representing more than 80,000 of Canada’s physicians and comprising 12 provincial and territorial medical associations and 60 national medical organizations. CMA’s mission is helping physicians care for patients. The CMA will be the leader in engaging and serving physicians and be the national voice for the highest standards for health and health care.

The Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) is a national federation with the mission promoting the profession of social work in Canada and advance social justice.