Considering delaying retirement due to rising health costs? You're not alone

An aging population has Canadians worried about the future of health care, according to a poll sponsored by the Canadian Medical Association that was released on Wednesday.

The Ipsos poll found 58 per cent believe Canadians will have to delay retirement to afford health care. The poll also found that 88 per cent of respondents are worried about the growing number of seniors requiring more health care.

The survey's release coincides with a meeting Wednesday of federal, territorial and provincial ministers responsible for seniors in Charlottetown to discuss support for Canada's aging population.

CMA president Dr. Gigi Osler is on the Island along with provincial medical associations from the region to brief the ministers on the state of seniors care across the country.

Osler said Canadians are concerned about the state of the health-care system now, and are equally concerned about the direction it is heading.

"Our current health care system is already strained and already not able to meet the needs of our seniors, and will be even more strained in the coming years," she said.

"As our population ages, not only are people going to have to pay more for those services it's going to cost our already strained health care system more in the coming years."

Strong support for more federal funding

According to Statistics Canada, in 2021 the number of seniors is expected to exceed the number of children 14 and under for the first time.

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The Ipsos poll found that 69 per cent of respondents think the health system needs new funding from the federal government to help provinces cover the cost of health care for an aging population.

In 2018 Canadian caregivers and care receivers spent more than $9 billion out-of-pocket to care for their loved ones, according to the CMA.

The CMA wants the federal government to top up the money going to the provinces through the Canada Health Transfer based on the number of seniors in the province. It is also lobbying for a new seniors benefit to help seniors pay their health-care costs.

Dr. Kris Saunders, president of the Medical Society of P.E.I., said the health system in the province needs help.

"One in five Islanders is over the age of 65. It puts a big strain on the system," said Saunders.

"Provincially we see some of the highest rates of chronic illness in Canada, some of the highest rates of cancer in Canada."

Older Canadians (55 and over) are most concerned about how health care costs may affect their wallets. The survey found 77 per cent of those 55 and over were worried about the financial burden of health care costs, compared to 70 per cent of those 35-54 and 58 per cent of those 18-34.

Ipsos conducted the online poll between February 25 and March 4. A sample of 3,352 Canadians 18 and older was interviewed. Results are accurate within 1.9 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

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