Defending Public Healthcare

We have some very important information to share and it is my sincere desire that you will read through to the end of this post and learn about an important project we’ve undertaken to bring awareness to a major problem our country is facing in our healthcare system, and to help bring proposed solutions to the attention of policy makers in our work to defend public healthcare.

I should begin by saying it’s been a very busy few months for us here at the foundation for social democracy, as we continue to expand our national Lecture Series Tour to educate people about social democracy, hosting community leadership training workshops, and increasing the breadth of our original research on urgent healthcare issues. Importantly, just this past winter we uncovered the original Letters Patent from 1971 in our archives - the original ideas that Tommy Douglas had for the purpose of the foundation. The founding document clearly states our mission is: to educate people about democracy, government, and politics. And to do this work through: seminars, lectures, training, special events, publications and original research. This is the vision we are now 100% focused on, and the work our supporters like you are helping us accomplish.

But what I really want to bring to your attention today is the research work we are doing on the current crisis and looming disaster facing our seniors, or anyone heading into their golden years, or people planning to retire in the next 20+ years, or anyone else in need of long-term care in Canada. We all know how the pandemic starkly exposed the inadequacies in our long-term care system, resulting in devastating consequences. It is a source of national shame for our country that long-term care residents represented a staggering 81 per cent of all reported COVID-19 deaths in Canada compared to an average of 38 per cent in other OECD countries. The response from our governments during this crisis was a sobering indicator that we cannot rely on fragmented policies to protect our population. The deficiencies in staffing, the lack of adequate facilities, gross underfunding, and the overall systemic neglect were glaringly evident as the pandemic ravaged long-term care facilities across the nation.

As you may have seen, we undertook a national research project to better understand the current state of long-term care and where it’s headed. In our summary report: “Unprepared to Care: Eroding Retirement Security and the Privatization of Seniors Care.” Our research was constructed in four distinct areas; Demographics, Financial Security, Healthcare Infrastructure, and Labour. The four areas of research provided us with a stark reality; we are not prepared to care for people in need today, and because the aging population is growing faster than any plan to fix it, the problem is going to get much worse unless urgent action is taken immediately. We must work quickly to address these issues and defend public healthcare.

Just think of how troubling things are today. Now, consider these projections from our research:

 By 2040, the senior population of 75+ will double.
 Over the next 25 years, the population aged 85+ is projected to triple to nearly 2.5 million people.
 In 2019, 20% of 380,000 Canadians needing long-term care were on waiting lists. That demand is
expected to increase by nearly 60% in 2031, up to 606,000 patients.
 The cost of long-term care is projected to nearly double from $29.7 billion in 2019 to $58.5 billion in
2031 - just 6 years from today.

“Seniors are the fastest-growing age group in this country. And they are looking to be assured that quality and accessible health care will be available when they need it.” Jack Layton. This projected increase in the senior population means that without massive intervention, we will witness a further decline in the quality of care, with overburdened facilities, underpaid and overworked staff, and inadequate resources becoming the norm. The data is clear: without urgent reform, younger generations will face a long-term care system in much worse condition than it is today. Shockingly, our research also found that all of the provinces lack multi-year capital plans to build new long-term care capacity, and the province’s “plans” are insufficient to meet the growing need for skilled healthcare workers in long-term and home care settings.

Because of reckless policy makers, we are on the brink of a catastrophe that will impact the current elderly population and future generations. Even worse, the predatory private care industry is profiting billions of dollars for inadequate care - siphoning off money and real estate from seniors that would otherwise be handed down. Sadly, seniors today and those to come, do not have adequate savings or pensions to afford such services leaving many in need without options. Public healthcare is the best solution!

So, what do we do? How can you and I take action to help solve this dilemma? As a next step in this project we plan to bring together workers, unions, academics, civil society advocates, and health and social policy experts to consider the following issues and propose solutions:

 Policy options to bring home community and long-term care under the Canada Health Act and
balance Federal and provincial responsibilities
 Limiting and regulating the financialization of seniors care and housing
 Models for transitioning to public and not-for profit models of ownership and service delivery
 Regulatory approaches to enforce national standards of care like evidence-based staffing levels and
other measures to improve workplace conditions and patient care
 Options to expand access to defined benefit pension plans and expand the CPP and OAS programs
 Policy options to improve income security programs for low and middle-income seniors.

This is why your support is urgent now more than ever. The Douglas Coldwell Layton Foundation is committed to ensuring that this research serves as more than just an academic exercise. We need to transform these findings into a powerful catalyst for change, promoting policies that will secure the future of long-term care in Canada. However, this mission to defend public healthcare requires resources - a collective effort from each of our supporters.

Your generosity will enable us to:
1. Amplify Our Voice: Through media campaigns, public forums, and strategic partnerships, we can ensure that our research reaches policymakers, stakeholders, and the general public.
2. Advocate for Policy Change: We aim to work closely with experts to influence the creation of policies that address the root causes of the crisis in senior care, ensuring long-term solutions.
3. Support Frontline Workers: By highlighting the need for better working conditions, training, and fair wages, to create environments where caregivers can provide the highest standard of care.
4. Educate and Engage the Public: Through workshops, lectures, and community outreach, we can build a knowledgeable and engaged citizenry to advocate for their rights and their loved ones.

The future of long-term care in Canada is at a critical juncture. Your contribution will make a tangible difference in our ability to influence change and protect the dignity and well-being of our seniors now and in the many years to come. We simply can’t do this work without you.

Please consider making a special charitable donation today. Together, we can support the movement
dedicated to securing a compassionate, efficient, and just healthcare system for all Canadians.
Thank you for your continued support and commitment to defending public healthcare.


Josh Bizjak, Executive Director

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