Policy and Resources
- On October 1, 2014 FPT Health Ministers met and agreed to begin work on the development of a National Dementia Strategy. While some provinces already have dementia strategies, Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose said there’s now a commitment to bring research and best practices together and present them at the next meeting of the health ministers. (see: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ambrose-provinces-to-come-together-to-develop-national-dementia-strategy/article20884846/)
- On September 12, 2014 the Government of Canada announced 32 projects being funded under the Canada Brain Research Fund. The research will advance knowledge and support the development of new ways to diagnose and treat all types of neurological and mental illnesses. Funding for all 32 projects totals nearly $51.4 million (see: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?mthd=index&crtr.page=1&nid=884079)
- On September 11, 2014 Rona Ambrose, Canada’s Minister of Health, and Mr. Philippe Zeller, Ambassador of France to Canada, welcomed leading dementia researchers and industry experts from G-7 countries to Ottawa for the Canada-France Global Dementia Legacy Event. The Legacy Event was the second in a series of four such events stemming from the Summit on Dementia held in London, UK, in December 2013. At the meeting they began the development of an action framework to address the challenges and barriers for collaboration between academia and industry.
- On September 10, 2014 the Government of Canada announced the launch of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA), a national initiative aimed at tackling the growing onset of dementia and related illnesses and improving the lives of Canadians with these illnesses, as well as their families and caregivers. The CCNA is supported with funding of $31.5M over five years from the Government of Canada through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and a group of 13 partners from the public and private sectors (see: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do;jsessionid=a9ad36bc924df196f3d8f4ba3b3a883fc50d213ff62e9f33225122c40e27a88e.e34Rc3iMbx8Oai0Tbx0SaxqPb3b0?mthd=tp&crtr.page=1&nid=883069&crtr.tp1D=1).
- On October 8, 2014 a new survey conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of Dying with Dignity Canada reveals that most Canadians believe a doctor should be able to provide assisted dying to Canadians under a variety of different scenarios. In the survey more than eight in ten (84%) Canadians ‘agree’ (51% strongly/33% somewhat) that , as long as safeguards are in place, doctor should be able to help someone end their life if the person is a competent adult who is terminally ill, suffering unbearably and repeatedly asks for assistance to die. Fewer than one in ten (16) ‘disagree’ (8% strongly/8% somewhat) that doctors should provide this help if asked (see: http://www.ipsos-na.com/news-polls/pressrelease.aspx?id=6626)
- In a September 15, 2014 interview Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose stated Canada has to do better when caring for people who are dying — and she wants to make that a priority. In October, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear an appeal by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) that could grant terminally ill Canadians the right to assisted suicide. The case seeks to allow seriously and incurably ill, but mentally competent, adults the right to receive medical assistance to hasten death under specific safeguards. (http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/rona-ambrose-says-canada-needs-befetter-palliative-care-1.2764813).
Costs of Long-Term Care
- On September 17, 2014 the CD Howe released a report recommending provincial governments should not expand public healthcare to cover the growing costs of long-term care (LTC), saying that such a move would put too much financial stress on future taxpayers.
- The authors estimate that, under the status quo, the costs of delivering and paying for LTC would roughly triple over the next 40 years, growing from around $69 billion in 2014 to around $188 billion in 2050, in inflation-adjusted dollars. Public LTC costs are estimated to grow from around $24 billion in 2014 to around $71 billion in 2050, and the private burden is anticipated to be even higher, growing from around $44 billion to about $116 billion over the same period of time. A multi-pronged solution to better target means-tested public subsidies and allow growth of private insurance and savings should be pursued, according to the authors (see: http://www.cdhowe.org/prepare-for-the-coming-crush-of-long-term-care-patients/27506). Link to CD Howe Report http://www.cdhowe.org/pdf/Commentary_415.pdf
Aging Population / Demographics
- On September 17, 2014 Statistics Canada released new population figures showing that British Columbia’s senior population will exceed the national average over the next 25 years, as Canada’s baby boomer population reaches age 65 and older. The number of people in that age group would reach between 24 per cent and 27 per cent of B.C’s population in 2038, or up to nearly five per cent higher than the Canadian average. By 2030, the year in which the youngest baby boomers will reach age 65, the agency says close to one in four Canadians will be over 65 (or between 22.2 per cent and 23.6 per cent of the population, compared with 15.3 per cent in 2013.) http://www.vancouversun.com/news/metro/senior+population+expected+exceed+national+average+StatsCan/10211031/story.html. Statistics Canada – Population projections: Canada, the provinces and territories, 2013 to 2063 –http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/140917/dq140917a-eng.htm?HPA
- On August 28, 2014, Provincial Premiers announced they will launch a dialogue with Canadians and engage key stakeholders on aging, and create a Task Force to look at the impacts an aging population will have on Canada’s social and economic future. This work will raise awareness on the changing social and economic needs associated with an aging population and highlight work that provinces and territories are undertaking to address these issues (see: http://www.canadaspremiers.ca/en/latest-news/74-2014/386-premiers-task-force-to-support-chair-s-initiative-on-aging)
- In its 2014 budget Ontario announced its commitment to modernize long-term care (LTC) homes and is proposing further investment in the LTC sector to enhance the current Long-Term Care Home Renewal Strategy by:
- Providing funding to encourage LTC home operators to accelerate the redevelopment of about 30,000 long-term care home beds;
- Introducing amendments to the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007, which, if passed, would extend the maximum term of LTC home licences from 25 to 30 years; and
- Proposing amendment to the Assessment Act that would provide consistent and equitable property tax treatment by exempting all charitable and non-profit LTC homes from property taxation, allowing homes to devote more of their resources to front-line care services.
- On September 25 2014, the Ontario Premier released the mandate letter for the new Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, which included a number of commitments relevant to LTC including: continuing to change Ontario’s funding system for hospitals, Community Care Access Centres and long-term care homes so that it reflects the care that people need and receive and exploring ways to improve dementia supports, including new memory clinics (See: https://www.ontario.ca/government/2014-mandate-letter-health-and-long-term-care)
- On October 7, 2014 the Auditor General released a report noting that more must be done to monitor the way the province cares for seniors in long-term care. The Auditor General said the situation has improved since 2005 (the last time his predecessor Auditor reviewed the system) but more needs to be done (see: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-auditor-general-gives-poor-grades-for-long-term-care-oilsands-1.2791249). Link to Alberta AG Report – http://www.oag.ab.ca/webfiles/reports/October%202014%20Report.pdf
- In September 2014, despite a commitment four years ago to shorten waits at Alberta’s hospitals by emptying wards of so-called “bed blockers,” provincial health authority documents show a rising proportion of acute-care spaces are occupied by patients waiting for a less-expensive room in a continuing care facility. And with one in 10 of the province’s acute-care beds filled with people who should mostly be in a nursing home or supportive living facility, emergency doctors say too many Albertans are still waiting far too long for treatment of potentially, life-threatening illnesses (see: http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/alberta/Blocked+beds+failure+meet+targets+compromising+health+care+officials/10233160/story.html)
- On September 25, 2014, the Quebec government introduced Bill 10 to restructure its health system including its long term care sector in order to reduce bureaucracy and save over $200 million annually. Some of the changes include:
- Creation of integrated health and social services centres (CISSS) with one CISSS in each of the province’s 16 health regions — except for Montreal, which will have have 5 CISSSs;
- Elimination of Quebec’s 18 health agencies;
- Elimination of 1,300 management positions;
- Merger of 182 health and social services centres (CSSS) into 28 integrated centres; and
- Reduction of administrative boards from 200 to 28. (see: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/ga%C3%A9tan-barrette-tables-bill-to-overhaul-quebec-s-health-care-system-1.2778358)
- In June 2014, the Quebec government passed legislation (An Act respecting end-of-life care) allowing for assisted suicides in some cases. It will take a year and a half to develop the regulations before the bill is formally law at the end of 2015. The act underlines the qualifying conditions a person must be experiencing to be able to make a request for medical aid in dying:
- Be an insured person within the meaning of the Health Insurance Act;
- Be of full age and capable of giving consent to care;
- Be at the end of life;
- Suffer from a serious and incurable illness;
- Be in an advanced state or irreversible decline in capability; and
- Experience constant and unbearable physical or psychological suffering which cannot be relieved in a manner the patient deems tolerable (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-end-of-life-care-law-means-new-era-for-health-providers-1.2667127).
- On September 23 2014, the BC government announced it is committing $500,000 for 2015 Age-friendly Community Planning and Project grants to help local governments establish or continue projects and community planning that supports healthy, active seniors. For the 2015 round of Age-friendly grants, communities are encouraged to consider projects and community planning that focus on accessibility(see: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2014/09/500000-for-2015-age-friendly-grants.html)
- On June 16, 2014 Michelle Stilwell was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health for Seniors, adding this role to her existing Parliamentary Secretary for Healthy Living responsibilities. Stilwell was elected MLA for Parksville-Qualicum on May 14, 2013. (see: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2014/06/new-parliamentary-secretary-for-seniors.html).
- On March 19, 2014 the Government of British Columbia appointed Isobel Mackenzie as Canada’s first senior’s advocate. The Office of the Seniors Advocate will monitor seniors’ services, promote awareness and work collaboratively with seniors, families, policymakers, service providers and others to identify solutions to systemic issues and make recommendations to government on ways to improve care for our aging population (see: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2014/03/bc-appoints-canadas-first-seniors-advocate.html).