The third report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities was tabled in the House of Commons in mid-June. Focusing on the impacts of COVID-19 on the well-being of seniors, the report makes 17 recommendations to the federal government related to various areas that are central to the well-being of older adults in Canada, including healthcare, social determinants of health, financial security, fighting ageism and elder abuse, and internet access and digital literacy.
“I am encouraged to see the recommendations coming out of the Committee’s report as they reflect what we have been hearing from our member healthcare organizations during the pandemic, and for years before it,” says Paul-Émile Cloutier, President and CEO of HealthCareCAN. “We know Canada’s population is aging, that healthcare workers are burnt out and that there are not enough providers to keep up with current demand. We need all levels of government to work together to implement these solutions – they cannot come soon enough for the health system, healthcare workers or older adults in Canada.”
HealthCareCAN has continued to press Parliamentarians on the need for new ideas and solutions to address shortcomings in the healthcare system. The Committee’s recommendations that align with HealthCareCAN’s recommendations include:
- Develop and implement a global immigration strategy to attract health care professionals in order to meet the long-term need for workers in this area caused by the aging of the Canadian population, including through improvements to the recognition of foreign credentials, training incentives and other professional development opportunities to address precarious work conditions, and a path to permanent residency for immigrant workers and their families.
- Implement the national standards for long-term care, which are currently being developed by the Health Standards Organization and Canadian Standards Association, and ensuring permanent changes are made.
- Increase the proportion of housing units that must meet accessibility and universal design standards in National Housing Strategy programs, in order to create more adaptable and accessible housing units for the aging Canadian population, making it easier for seniors to age at home.
- Develop a national strategy for home and community care and support, and that it provide recurring funding to the provinces and territories specifically to develop and provide home care and support services for seniors.
- Consult with provinces and territories on how to ensure that the Canada Health Transfer meets the needs of Canada’s aging population in regards to health care, including long-term care and home care, and that it make the necessary adjustments as soon as possible.
- Continue to prioritize investment in the development of broadband Internet across the country.
- Develop programs to help financially vulnerable seniors get Internet service and the equipment they need to access it.
- Create a federal office of the seniors advocate that would have a mandate to develop a national seniors strategy, provide advice to the Government of Canada as regards seniors and their needs, and address elder abuse.
The Committee’s report contains 17 comprehensive recommendations, touching on healthcare services and social determinants of health that would support better aging, including aging at home. However, one aspect that is notably absent from the report is the need for consistent, sustainable funding for research into aging and the conditions that impact individuals as they get older. “While the need for investments in research to support better aging and older adult care were not included in the Committee’s report, such investments will be crucial to achieve the objectives outlined in the report,” notes Cloutier. “HealthCareCAN encourages the government to commit to investing in research in its response to the report.”
HealthCareCAN eagerly awaits the federal government’s response to the report. We will be following up with members of Parliament and government officials to push for the implementation of the Committee’s recommendations, and for research funding to support better aging and older adult care.
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