Federal, Provincial, Territorial Health Ministers’ Meeting in P.E.I. Offers Some Hope for Long Term Care’s Priorities

The Canadian Association for Long Term Care is cautiously optimistic about the results of this week’s meeting of federal, provincial and territorial health ministers’ and ministers responsible for mental health and addiction.

In their brief joint statement, we were pleased to see long term care was mentioned, with a commitment to do further work to ensure seniors age with dignity.

We were encouraged to see many strategies to tackle the health human resources crisis discussed. CALTC has been advocating for many of the items highlighted in the communique such as increased labour mobility, easier immigration pathways for health care workers and more concrete tools for retention.

CALTC has been sounding the alarm for a decade on the need for more and better data across the health care system, but particularly in long term care. While the ministers discussed issues of health data, we hope that as they move forward, long term care is a priority in these plans. Only two-thirds of Canadian long term care homes use interRAI, a gold standard in resident assessments, so support to bring this tool into all homes should be a priority.

While this meeting showed some momentum to tackle issues that will improve the health care system, we should not lose sight of the fact that long term care continues to be a continued priority. Staffing shortages, outdated infrastructure, an aging population and a chronic lack of funding continue to create a perfect storm that is keeping many Canadian seniors from getting the care they need and deserve.

Health ministers throughout the country have to meet this moment with the seriousness it requires. CALTC will watch closely at how the initiatives discussed at the meeting will be implemented — but we also hope to see health ministers adopt the urgency required to improve long term care homes across Canada.

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