Doctors group calls on federal election candidates to put health care back on the agenda

The president-elect of the Canadian Medical Association was in Moncton on Friday as part of a cross-country tour to meet with federal election candidates about getting health care on the election agenda.

Dr. Ann Collins, who has a family practice in Fredericton, says provinces and territories are digging themselves deeper in debt trying to keep up with health-care costs.

And it's only expected to get worse as the population ages, unless the federal government steps up funding to address the so-called silver tsunami.

"Like anything, it will take a commitment," said Collins. "It'll take these parties the realization that this is … not an in-the-future [problem], it's here now, it's affecting the health of Canadians."

The association contends a top-up to the Canada Health Transfer to provide extra funding to provinces and territories, based on their population of seniors, could help.

It's one of several proposals developed by the association, which represents about 85,000 physicians, residents and medical students across the country.

It affects all of us. We're all potentially patients. - Ann Collins, president-elect of Canadian Medical Association

"What we've heard from Canadians — and we've listened intently to Canadians over the last year — is that our health-care system is failing them," Collins said. "It's an antiquated system, if you will, and not meeting their needs.

"So we have put together a policy platform to help put forward proposals to the … federal election candidates on the issues that matter to our patients, to Canadians."

The association would also like to see a seniors care benefit, to help cover additional out-of-pocket expenses for seniors and their caregivers who currently spend more than $9 billion to care for their loved ones.

"Many of the caregivers to our seniors are seniors themselves and are beginning to struggle with what comes along sometimes with aging, so we need to support them," said Collins.

Other ideas include:

  • A $1.2 billion primary health-care transition fund to support the medical home model to improve access to primary care.

  • Support for a pan-Canadian medical licensing system, to expand virtual care and deliver health care to people in remote areas.

Without changes, Canadians face health care cuts and reduced quality of care, said Collins.

"It affects all of us. We're all potentially patients and so we want to have … the best system that we can to care for us and for our kids going forward."