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Access to health care a significant problem for one-in-five Canadians 55 and older

As the 2019 federal election campaign approaches and parties begin making their pitches to voters, a new public opinion poll from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute suggests there is ample room for policy platforms based on improving health care delivery for Canada’s aging population.

The study finds more than 2 million Canadians aged 55 and older face significant barriers when accessing the health care system in their province, such as being unable to find a family doctor or experiencing lengthy wait-times for surgery, diagnostic tests, or specialist visits.

Moreover, most Canadians in this age group have at least some difficulty getting the care they want or need in a timely manner.

The study focuses on the health care experiences of older Canadians, as well as their assessments of the quality of care they receive.

Most Canadians this age take a positive view of their own health care, but they are more skeptical in their assessments of the trajectory of care in their provinces. The perception that health care in their home province has “deteriorated” over the last 10 to 15 years outpaces the view that it has improved in every region of the country except Saskatchewan.

Indeed, while barriers to health care exist for Canadians 55 and older in every province, the problem is most acute in Atlantic Canada, where provincial systems are often swamped by growing demand from their aging populations.

More Key Findings:

  • Most Canadians 55+ have either “easy” (31%) or “acceptable” (40%) access to primary care, but one-in-four (25%) say it is difficult to get an appointment with their doctors in a timely manner
  • Wait times for specialist visits, advanced diagnostic tests, and surgeries follow a similar pattern, with most in this age group receiving the care they need in less than six months, but significant minorities waiting longer than that
  • While this study focuses on those 55 and older, there are some significant differences between age groups. Those ages 75 and older are more likely than people younger than them to be heavy users of their province’s health care system and tend to have moderate difficulty accessing the services they need
  • Atlantic Canadians ages 55 and older are more likely than those living in other regions to have major issues accessing health care, as well as to perceive their provincial health care systems as deteriorating

Read the rest of the story here:

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