The way in which we pay for long-term care (LTC) services is going to come under enormous pressure as Canada's baby boomers age. Once baby boomers start to turn 75, in 2021, the demand for LTC services will see a sharp upward trend. A number of independent projections have demonstrated how this will put pressure on the public finances in coming years.
It should be concerning to Canadians that we have not publicly discussed how we will make the tough choices to cope with these pressures. Moreover, it's equally troubling that our provincial LTC systems already are unable to cope with the current level of demand for services, with less than a decade before the first wave of boomers enter age groups where demand for LTC is high, and alternate level of care patients, made up mostly of frail elderly, occupying over 15% of Canadian hospital beds on a daily basis as they await care elsewhere.
Although we think it is unlikely that Canadian provinces will add LTC to the list of fully subsidized health services (hospitals and doctors), we should do a better job of targeting the existing public subsidies for LTC – and do so while putting LTC financing on a more sustainable footing.
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