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Worried about the surging tide of aging boomers, doctors urgently want a national seniors strategy. Readers, print and digital, agree, but argue that how Canada's health-care system looks after its older citizens is more than a 'crisis-in-waiting.' It's already here


Your headline for your editorial Canada's Crisis-In-Waiting (Jan. 17) should be rephrased as "Canada's crisis as a consequence of waiting." Our federal and provincial governments should have established a Canada Health Care Investment Fund a long time ago.

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Money for this fund should be invested each year in sufficient amounts to provide the additional medicare revenue that will be needed because of our aging population. The Canada Pension Plan has an Investment Board that has reportedly accumulated about $234-billion as of this date. Why can't we have a similar Canada Health Care Investment Board and Investment Fund?

Why are we waiting?

Answer: Because our provincial and federal politicians are often primarily interested in doing whatever is necessary to get re-elected, so additional taxes are to be avoided at all costs and financial obligations – for example, some government-employee pensions – are often not immediately funded.

The "national strategy" requested by the Canadian Medical Association should be to start saving, by means of a Canada Health Care Board and Fund, for anticipated added health-care costs.

Michael Czuboka, Winnipeg


Sick seniors and their families who have battled for care know on a visceral level that there is no "crisis-in-waiting." It's already upon us. Aging parents are even less happy than health-care leaders about "blocking" hospital beds and occupying underserviced long-term care spots.

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Our system broke when leaders failed to adjust to predictable, changing realities. People want to stay home as long as possible. To do that, we need affordable housing, access to assisted living arrangements, a robust home-care system, community supports, national pharmacare and measures that other countries have taken. We can't afford to delay for another strategy-planning session. Instead, we must demand that our well-paid politicians and health-care leaders act on all the strategies already outlined in commissions, studies and roundtables. It's time to tell them to lead, follow or get out of the way.

Nancy Johnson, Northeast Family Councils Network, Sudbury, Ont.


Your editorial considered the "tsunami" of pending demand for health care for Canada's growing elderly population.

Tuesday's edition featured André Picard's article, Seniors Deserve To Live In A Safe Setting. He focused on the tragedy of errors and extremely lax and irresponsible level of regulation that culminated in the deaths of 32 seniors in L'Isle-Verte.

Long-term care should be part of our health-care system. It shouldn't be a for-profit-driven enterprise based on minimizing costs to maximize profits. A comprehensive, integrated, professional, well-regulated system of home-care supports and services is the answer. All Canadian seniors (we will all get there sooner or later) deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

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Steve Sanderson, Quispamsis, N.B.


We boomers kinda already knew, y'know. We're already being neglected by the health-care system and medical profession.

Anne Reesor, Mississauga


Methinks reports that boomers will inevitably tax the health system (pun intended) are, like those of a certain writer's death, greatly exaggerated. Boomers I know are taking pains to try to exercise and make the choices doctors keep telling us to make.

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Marilyn Summers, Calgary


I do not have a mortgage and am paying off my debt this year. About 40 per cent of my credit card debt went to charities. I get money from mutual funds invested in stocks and bonds. I never owned a car or house in my life, nor had a mortgage.

I hope to stay healthier than my parents were at my age. I do not wheeze like my dad used to do, because he was a smoker. He also had two strokes by my age. And my hearing is fine!

Brent Galster, Vancouver


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The crisis is already here, given current pressures on the health-care system. You rightly support the Canadian Medical Association's position on the pressing need for a national strategy, but you state that what needs to be done is not complicated, and that money should be spent on new, properly staffed long-term care facilities.

The crisis is, however, systemwide. While it is key that enough long-term facilities are available, with staffing and resources to meet the increasingly complex needs of patients, this alone will not suffice. Acute hospitals have to adopt a senior-friendly approach; specialized geriatric service should be readily available for all seniors; more rehabilitation has to be provided that is specifically designed for the elderly; most importantly, many more community resources have to be deployed to enable seniors to remain in the community.

Programs in different parts of the country have shown positive results doing this, and there is much to be learned from countries such as Denmark, where community programs have markedly decreased the need for new long-term care facilities.

The time for discussion is over. Action is urgently required.

Rory Fisher, professor emeritus, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto


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We desperately need a national strategy to build medical homes for the elderly to avoid the $1,000 daily cost for a hospital bed (instead of $55 home care). It is hard to believe that in "timeliness of care" we are almost last among Western nations. As you aptly put it, "the silver tsunami is coming" and I am one of them.

Julie Beaudoin Pearce, Victoria


ON REFLECTION Letters to the editor

Mr. Putin must be smiling

Re PM Says Canada Will Not Scale Back Operations In Iraq (Jan. 23): Russian President Vladimir Putin must be absolutely delighted at Prime Minister Stephen Harper's sending Canadian forces to Iraq as non-combatants, and then supporting General Tom Lawson's doublespeak that the situation in Iraq has "evolved," thus forcing Canadian troops, I mean advisers, to shoot back.

Mr. Putin must smile every time he thinks of the Australian handshake and the lecture he got from Mr. Harper.

Tony Fricke, Calgary


Count in First Nations

Re Statscan Jobless Figures Exclude Reserves (Jan. 23): Statscan is not the only government entity that hides or refuses to collect First Nation data.

Our federal system of education (i.e. First Nation schools) are excluded from the OECD's Program of International Student Assessment, resulting in a distorted image of education in Canada. What we have amounts to an apartheid system of education. This is hidden from the world by the government's refusal to collect accurate information on First Nations.

Ron Phillips, associate professor, Nipissing University, North Bay


Debt as an 'ethical issue'

Re Oliver Vows Budget Will Be Balanced (Jan. 22): Finance Minister Joe Oliver argues that balancing the budget is an "ethical issue" and that it is wrong "to burden our children, our grandchildren with expenditures that we're incurring today."

So why have we have frittered away billions on boutique tax cuts rather than pay down our debt?

Craig Sims, Kingston


Facing up to blackface

Re Quebec's Take On Blackface (Jan. 22): Quebeckers aren't any more (or less) racist than any other group, but Patrick Lagacé's arguments aren't likely to convince many readers of that. First, I'm not sure printing of-fensive cartoons of Mohammed from Charlie Hebdo is a sign of enlightenment or insensitivity. And yes, cultural codes vary but I suspect minorities prefer references that don't rely on physical traits. As elsewhere, Quebec's pure laine may discover the hard way some cultural codes aren't popular with minorities.

Antoine Brassard-Lahey, Montreal

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