Beginning in 1947 Canada was hit with a boom that, from an economists point of view, influenced the country for years to follow. This era was known as the baby boom. Canada’s birthrate skyrocketed through until about 1965 which caused a ballooned population segment to ripple through the decades. Today, generation Boomer is approaching their senior years which means the start of another boom. The boom of public healthcare demand. The big question: Is Burlington ready?
According to the last census from Statistics Canada, Burlington seniors make up 16.9% of the total population. This ratio is higher than Oakville, Milton, and Halton Hills. Burlington’s social profile also shows that this number has been increasing. Moreover, 1 in 4 seniors in Burlington are living alone. Based on these stats, it is no wonder why there is growing concern about how prepared our healthcare system will be as this large cohort ages and the demand for public health services increase. Our healthcare system is already viewed as over burdened so where will these patients go when even the beds stacked in the hallways at our hospitals are completely filled?
The impending strain extends much further than the borders of Burlington. It has been just over a year now since the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) published their press release on what is being viewed as a nationwide dilemma. The press release highlighted a poll in which Canadians demonstrated a “desperation for a national seniors care strategy as population ages”. There were concerns about access to health services, worry about not having the money to afford necessary treatment, and doubt that the hospitals and long-term care facilities will be equipped to meet the increasing demands. Despite the outcries from the CMA over the last year, there doesn’t seem to be much reaction from our campaigning federal leaders in support for senior care strategy. Dr. Chris Simpson, President of the CMA warned the campaigning leaders early this month that healthcare in Canada won’t survive unless they get serious about seniors care.
Luckily for Burlington, Mayor Rick Goldring views health as a serious matter. He is known for his vision for Burlington to be the healthiest city in Canada. Perhaps the solution to the problem can be found within this dream. Our current system is fractured with a weak integration of available health services from public to private. A solution can always be found in the cause. There must be a change in the way that the community views and manages their health. If we can steer in that direction, begin to bridge all available services from public to private sectors and reform healthcare policy to focus on health rather than sickness then we just might avoid a complete system collapse. Sit on our hands however, and beds filling up the halls of our hospitals will be the least of our concerns.