Dr. Granger Avery

Langley Seniors Summit addresses concerns with aging population

National strategy for seniors among top issues discussed at Thursday afternoon event




For the first time in Canadian history, seniors outnumber youth in population, and with that comes increasing pressures on health care systems.

As government and health officials continue to deliberate how best to handle this rapid change in demographics, Langley-Aldergrove MP Mark Warawa turned to Langley seniors themselves to ask for solutions.

On Thursday, Warawa, who serves as the Official Opposition Critic for Seniors, co-hosted a Langley Seniors Summit at the Langley Seniors Resource Centre for residents to learn and share innovative ideas for improving senior’s care.

The event — which saw around 40 people attend — featured presentations from Dr. Granger Avery, president of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), and Lori Godin, manager of clinical operations for seniors at Langley Memorial Hospital.

Of the feedback received so far, Warawa said seniors are asking for a minister for seniors, a national strategy for seniors, a national strategy for palliative care and a national strategy for dementia.

“For the first time in Canadian history there are more seniors than there are youth, right now. And it’s going to change and continue to change even more dramatically,” Warawa said.

“We need to prepare for that because, what does that mean? Do we have the resources to take care of our aging population? Do we build thousands of new care facilities? We can’t afford to do that, that’s not possible. So how do we care for our aging population?”

Currently, one in six Canadians are considered seniors, and that is expected to increase to one in four in the next 13 years.

For the health care industry to accommodate this, Dr. Avery told the audience that major changes are needed.

“We, unfortunately, as a country, have not really got ahead of this wave. We have not really planned for this. And our system, which was set up to work well in the ’60s, I don’t think is keeping up with what the requirements of the people are in Canada,” Avery said.

“We need to change the way that the health care in Canada is planned and is managed.”

Part of this process includes renegotiating the Health Accord between the federal government and Canada’s provinces and territories — a process which is now underway.

“This Health Accord will address money … but I think it must be more than that. I think it must be about how we go about making decisions, and who manages those decisions,” Avery said.

“People across Canada are getting different levels of care, different levels of access and etc.”

In B.C., 43 per cent of the provincial budget is spent on health care, Avery said, with seniors accounting for a large portion of this.

He is a large supporter of the CMA’s campaign to have the government create a national strategy for seniors by the year 2019. The association has created the website demandaplan.ca as an arm to do this, and has received support from more than 36,000 people through this online platform.

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