More than 240 people crowded into the Community Hall in Qualicum Beach on Monday to listen to health-care professionals discuss health care for seniors and talk to host, Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns, about their own experiences, ideas and concerns.
According to a news release from the MP’s office, Johns told the standing-room-only crowd that the purpose of hosting this meeting was to raise public awareness about seniors’ health care issues and to seek feedback from the community about what he should tell parliament in advance of a national health accord, which is expected to be concluded between the federal, provincial and territorial governments next year.
MP Johns said that his riding has the highest average age in the country and its population is expected to grow even older in the coming decades. “There is no question that the communities of Courtenay-Alberni are in need of increased and enhanced care for seniors if we are to deal with this reality”.
The NDP has urged the government to give serious consideration to enhanced seniors’ health care measures recommended by the CMA for the health accord.
Dr. Robin Saunders, a Canadian Medical Association (CMA) board member told the crowd that new funding is required if the challenges of an aging population are to be met.
“If the federal government were to adjust the amount of health care funding that they deliver to B.C. to account for the number of seniors, you would receive an additional $258.7 million of desperately needed funding next year”, he told the audience. The total required for all of Canada, he said, is increased transfers to the provinces of $1.66 billion.
Following presentations by local seniors’ health advocates and health professionals from the Comox Valley Nurses Network, the Oceanside Health Centre and the Vancouver Island Association of Family Councils, Johns urged his constituents to tell their own stories about seniors’ care and to tell him their ideas for change.
The audience responded with comments and concerns about accountability of health care managers and professionals, inadequate home care services, the need for a national pharmacare program and a national dementia strategy and support for family care givers and difficulties in accessing needed services.
In his concluding remarks, Johns called on the government to adopt a national seniors strategy and thanked constituents for coming from the Alberni and Comox Valleys, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Bowser and Coombs. He promised them that would take their views back to parliament and urged them to continue the dialogue by writing to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
— NEWS Staff/News release from office of MP Gord Johns