The Party Leaders at Last Night's Debate. Photo from the CBC.

The leaders of four of Canada’s major political parties debated each other last night as the country gears up for a general election on May 2nd.  The needs of Canada’s ageing population was not a major discussion topic in last night’s debate.  However, seniors have been one of the major issues of this election, which will have Canadians select the 308 members of the House of Commons.

A recent article on Toronto’s National Post provides an overview of the ongoing debates and party proposals.  According to the paper, “elder care shifted to the spotlight after the NDP pressured the [Conservative controlled] federal government to include expanded support for low-income seniors in the federal budget.”  This action forced all of the other major parties to present their own ageing policies.

Since then, the NDP has proposed a “national home-care strategy, … a doubling of benefits in the Canada Pension Plan, and direct funding to home care or assisted-living programs for the elderly” that “would free up overcrowded hospitals.”  For its part, the Liberal Party’s proposals “would strengthen the Canada Pension Plan, create a national strategy to deal with Alzheimer’s disease,” and create a Family Care Plan that would “allow six months of employment insurance payments for people leaving work to care for elderly parents.”  Finally, the Conservative Party has proposed more “targeted help for Canada’s Seniors” through the Canada Health Act, and “an increase to the amount of income [Seniors] can claim tax free under the senior-age tax credit.”

Take a look at some of the ageing-related facts that the Canadian Nurses Association has identified as affecting Canada in the lead up to the election below, and share your thoughts with IAHSA.  What ageing policies should Canada’s next government pursue?  Do you think any of the policies mentioned above is particularly noteworthy?  How does Canada’s situation compare to the one in your country?  Are you in Canada?  If so, what results do you think the election will bring to Canada’s seniors?

  • In 2005, there were 4.2 million seniors aged 65 and older in Canada, and Statistics Canada projects there will be 9.8 million seniors by 2035.
  • 75% of seniors’ incomes are from fixed sources: pensions and government supplements.
  • More than two million Canadians are acting as informal caregivers for a family member or friend, the majority are children and relatives.
  • Between 17% and 30% of seniors having at least one mental health issue.
  • More than 150,000 seniors received care in a residential facility in 2005/06. Trends indicate that 560,000 to 740,000 seniors will need placement in a long-term care facility by 2031.
  • A shortage of spaces for those who are chronically ill or require palliative care leads to many seniors remaining in acute care settings when they really need other non-hospital supports.