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Doctors tell federal parties to 'get back to basics and make healthcare a priority' ahead of election

Last Updated May 8, 2019 at 7:43 am PST

(Source: iStock)

Just months ahead of the election, the CMA says the public is more concerned about healthcare than the carbon tax

'Get back to basics and make health care a priority,' doctors say as federal parties prepare for upcoming election

Survey from Ipsos finds more than half of Canadians say they're worried about healthcare

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It seems our federal parties are lining up on either side of the carbon tax as we head toward an election this fall, but is it really a top issue for Canadians?

According to the Canadian Medical Association, the answer is no.

The CMA says the message from Canadians is “get back to basics and make healthcare a priority,” and it has a survey to back it up.

Ipsos has found more than half — 53 per cent — of people who live in this country say they’re worried about healthcare. By comparison, only 20 per cent are concerned about a carbon tax.

Suggesting federal parties should take note, the Association adds six-in-10 respondents indicate they would vote for the party they think has the best plan for the future of our healthcare system.

“We are calling on federal political parties to make health care a priority. I think we need bold political leadership to address the issues in the health care system,” says Dr. Gigi Osler, president of the Canadian Medical Association.

“I think this is an opportunity for Canadians to make a real change. When those candidates come knocking on your door, when they ask for your vote, ask each of them what their plan is to fix the health care system.”

Osler says two thirds of Canadians surveyed worry about governments cutting healthcare services to balance their budgets, while half surveyed believe they’ll eventually need to pay more for healthcare.

When asked about more specific health care worries, six-in-10 Canadians say they worry a great deal about long wait times (62%), the shortage of health professionals (60%) and crowded hospitals (59%).

“I think we have seen politicians look at certain aspects of health care. Pharmacare, for example, is very much needed — the ability for Canadians to pay for their own medications is becoming an issue — but we are also seeing a need for a more comprehensive strategy,” Osler tells NEWS 1130.

“A little bit of money here for pharmacare and a little bit of money there for long term care beds helps, but I think we have all these different issues that really require something more comprehensive in terms of the way health care is funded in Canada and how it is delivered.”

Osler says it’s an issue that can’t wait, pointing to our aging population.

“I look at our seniors in Canada right now — we have about 19 per cent of the population who are age 65 or older — and they require about 50 per cent of our health care dollars. This is a group of Canadians that will only get bigger in the coming decades. You can imagine how much more our seniors are going to need in the future,” she explains.

“We are already hearing about seniors who are admitted to hospital for long periods of time because they can’t get long term care beds, or families who are struggling and paying out-of-pocket for things like medications and home care. They are struggling right now and we are only going to see more challenges in the future just to look after their needs, let alone the rest of Canadians.”

Osler believes it is time to tell federal political parties that leadership is needed on health.

“We are hearing from our patients about the need for change. If we are concerned about it, we have to pass the message on to the people who want to run our next federal government.”

She says patients and health care providers can no longer, and will no longer, wait.