Most of us shudder at the idea of being hospitalized or living in a long-term care facility. As people age, it is understandable that their most common goal is to be at home as long as possible. And as people experience health care in inadequately funded hospitals across the country, the prospect of facing deteriorating health in a public institution becomes even more unnerving. It is in this context that the Ontario government released their new plan for home care on May 13, "Patients First: A Roadmap to Strengthen Home and Community Care."
Canada has a growing and aging population. In 2014 there were more than 6 million Canadians aged 65 or older, representing 15.6 per cent of the population. By 2030, seniors will number more than 9 million and make up about 25 per cent of the population. At a time when Canada needs a national strategy and leadership on health and aging, we find the government moving away from funding our cherished universal health-care system, which was based solely on need and not how much money one had. At one time the envy of the world, Canada's health-care system is slowly being eroded and privatized.
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Stephen Harper's policies on drugs are embarrassingly backwards. In Canada right now, millions of people are paying out of pocket for medically necessary prescriptions and supplies, or, becoming ill when they can no longer afford to. At the same time, proven life-saving initiatives like Insite, Vancouver's safe-injection site for drug users, are being threatened by new legislation. Canadian communities need a national pharmacare program but instead, on March 23 the Harper government passed the second reading of Bill C-2, the "Respect for Communities Act," to throw up roadblocks in the creation of safe-injection sites.