Unprepared to Care: Eroding Retirement Security and the Privatization of Seniors Care

Executive Summary

This report summarizes findings from the Douglas Coldwell Layton Foundation’s (DCLF) recent research program delving into the Long Term Care crisis Canada is facing today and in the near future. It describes several interconnected crises in seniors’ care: 

  • Governments unprepared to meet surging demand from an aging population, putting further pressure on fractured and underfunded care systems.
  • Aggressive privatization and financialization of care across the spectrum of seniors care, where profit motives and real estate interests trump quality of care.
  • Poor conditions of work for care workers that are exacerbating staff shortages, deteriorating the quality of care and harming the well-being of the care workforce. 
  • A growing gap in seniors' savings that could put access to adequate care out of reach and leave many seniors destined to poverty.

Taken together, DCLF research reveals how seniors are being abandoned to economic uncertainty in retirement, left on their own to access and pay for necessary care. The report concludes by proposing a suite of issues for the social democratic movement and broader social and health policy communities to consider, and questions that could inform the next phase of DCLF’s research.

Read the full report HERE

 

Next Steps

Taken together, the research compiled in this report paints a grim picture for the future of seniors care and economic security.  A future where governments fall well short of meeting the growing demand for long-term and home care, and rely more and more on privatization.  A future where seniors needing care are abandoned to a highly financialized system that puts profit over their well-being and the well-being of care workers, and where access to care rests on ability to pay. A future where too many seniors must rely on their own private wealth to finance a dignified retirement, and one where poorer seniors face an uncertain future of poverty and an inability to pay for basic care. 

As a next step in our research and convening, the DCLF is interested to bring together workers, unions, academics, civil society and a broad range of health and social policy experts to consider the following issues:

  • Policy options to bring home, community and long-term care under the Canada Health Act and balance Federal and provincial responsibilities
  • Regulating the financialization of seniors care and housing
  • Models for transitioning to public and not-for profit models of ownership and service delivery in home, community and long-term care
  • Regulatory approaches to enforce national standards of care like evidence-based staffing levels and other measures to improve workplace conditions and patient care outcomes 
  • Options to expand access to defined benefit pension plans, both in unionized and non-unionized workplaces
  • Reform options to expand the CPP/QPP
  • Policy options to improve income security programs for low and middle income seniors

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