What does this report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) tell us about ageism and how seniors are valued in Canada? We can work to prevent this situation from continuing in a second wave of COVID-19 which is almost a certainty.
Since the government announced the federal Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare in the 2018 budget, the pharmaceutical and insurance industries have embarked on a lobbying frenzy in Ottawa.
No one knows exactly how much money Big Pharma, Big Insurance and billionaires are funnelling into the anti-pharmacare campaigns. No mechanism exists in Canada to ensure that level of transparency. However, it is possible to gather fragments of evidence that suggest a complex tapestry of lobbying and advertising activity being deployed by these actors to protect their interests.
Shortly after the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health issued its report endorsing publicly funded pharmacare in April 2018, members of Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association challenged the committee’s recommendations at a lobby day event on Parliament Hill. A press release stated that the Standing Committee’s recommendations could “reduce the quality of health benefit plans for millions of people.”
It is February 2019 and Manitoba, Alberta and Nunavut have still not signed the bilateral agreements with the federal government that starting in 2018 provide a total $3 billion of “targeted” federal dollars over a four year period for home care and mental health. Strangely enough, this information was only obtained through a freedom of information request, according to the Winnipeg Free Press.
Why is it strange and difficult to get such information? These bilateral agreements are based on an agreed statement of principles, a plan of action, and, very importantly, on a commitment to public accountability and transparent processes. These commitments are made by all the provincial and territorial governments that sign on and get the funds. However, the federal government has apparently given out the first instalments of the targeted funding although one province and two territories have not signed and at least one other province (BC) has not been transparent about its agreement or plan of action.
It matters a lot to us as seniors because of the continuing and urgent need everywhere for more home care, meaning care for specific medically necessary care for chronic conditions, as the Romanow Commission report described and recommended in 2003. Access to home care allows people with medically necessary conditions to stay in their own homes, to enjoy a better quality of life, and to stay out of more expensive institutional care or hospital care. ( Note, home care does not mean assistance with household tasks.)
An essential part of these agreements is that provinces and territories provide a detailed plan showing how the targeted funding is to be used and also agree to provide regular public reports. Some provinces have indeed provided such plans to their citizens and promised to be accountable and transparent about how they spend the funds. We need to be on the lookout for their reports.
The province of BC has apparently signed a bilateral agreement but has not made its plan public. We seniors in BC want to know about the plans for addressing dementia or seniors’ opioid use or depression, and to see when and where and by whom more publicly funded medically necessary home care services are being provided.
Kathleen Jamieson – NPF Member at Large, Health Committee Liaison
Greetings NPF Members,
Recently the Institute released its newest report, ‘Charting the Path to National Pharmacare in Canada’. Greg Marchildon, a noted national and international expert on health policy, and Andrew Jackson, the Broadbent Institute’s Senior Policy Advisor, our co-authors, conclude that national pharmacare stands a much better chance at success if it is established as a federally-run single payer program. And success is critical: right now, millions of Canadians don’t take the medications they need because of lack of coverage.
Along with a historical overview of Canada’s history with pharmacare, the report provides a policy architecture for how Canada can move to a single payer program and who would benefit from doing so.
Canada remains unique among the world’s high-income countries with universal health coverage in that comprehensive pharmacare is absent in its national benefit package, even though a majority of Canadians, healthcare providers, labour organizations and employers support the program.
I hope that you’re able to read the report and share it with some others who might be interested in it.
The Canadian Health Coalition is launching its campaign calling for a National Seniors Care Strategy.
Most Canadians will rely on seniors care at some point in their lives. Our public health care system is currently ill-equipped to address the health care needs of the aging population. We need a National Strategy to ensure that all seniors can access quality care, regardless of where they live in Canada. We must take action now to ensure consistent funding, standards of care and staffing levels across the country. All Canadians deserve to age with dignity and respect!