By CALTC Chair, Daniel Fontaine
Why should the Federal Government take an active role in supporting seniors’ care?
Because you care.
We should live in a society where seniors live with dignity and comfort in their own home. When a senior moves into long-term care – it should be known as their home, not referred to as a “facility”.
Last year, for the first time in Canadian history, the population aged 65 and older outnumbered those under the age of 14. As the number of seniors and life expectancy in Canada rises, so does the demand for new and more modern care homes. Homes that are better equipped to care for people living with Dementia. The Federal Government must do its part.
As a first step, the Canadian Association for Long-Term Care has launched a national campaign to engage with the Federal Government. We are asking every Member of Parliament to show their commitment to seniors by taking time out of their schedules to visit a care home in their riding during the week of February 10th to 16th. Constituency weeks are a time away from parliamentary business, where MPs can spend time in their communities. This is a perfect opportunity to visit a care home, spend time with the staff and residents, and see first-hand the challenges and opportunities in our long-term care system. A great opportunity for every MP to show they care.
But that is only a starting point. We also know that there are a number of important initiatives that the Federal Government can do to demonstrate leadership and improve the quality of care for our seniors.
With demand forecasted to grow exponentially for seniors care, it is critical we increase our capacity to train and retain a labour pool available to meet this demand. Care home operators across Canada are reporting that our labour supply is at a crisis point. The Federal Government has an opportunity to address this shortage by developing, in partnership with the sector, a new health human resources strategy to replace the one that’s been collecting dust on a shelf since 2004.
A refreshed strategy would be more than just a document. It would set clear direction and outline a defined course of action for provinces and territories, ensuring they have adequate and consistent planning and resources in place to support the care needs of our aging population. This would include simple reforms to our immigration policy which result in people being trained to work in seniors care in Canada, but being forced to work in other countries after they graduate.
Further, housing for seniors who require complex care is not considered housing by this government. The Federal Government’s housing strategy purposely excludes long-term care residences for seniors. But our seniors still require a safe place to live and call home. One that is capable of providing the necessary and additional health supports that seniors require. We shouldn’t have to split hairs on what the federal definition of a home is, while seniors across Canada are in dire need of new long-term care homes. Building new and renovating existing homes should be a priority for the Federal Government and every major political party.
The Canadian Association for Long-Term Care has been busy advocating for better seniors’ care in Canada. We are the national voice of care providers delivering publicly-funded health care services to seniors across Canada. We do this because we care about seniors. It is paramount that MPs and the Federal Government show how they care by making tangible investments and efforts in collaboration with their provincial and territorial partners.
We know Canadians care, now is the time for MPs to show us that they do too.
See the #BECAUSEYOUCARE page for more information on the MPs who are now scheduled to visit a long-term care home in their constituency.
Daniel Fontaine is the Chair of the Canadian Association for Long Term Care and sits on the Ministerial Advisory Board on Dementia.
Originally published in the Hill-Times.