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CLHIA Report on Long-term Care Policy - Improving the accessibility, quality and sustainability of long-term care in canada

Release Date: 06/21/2012
Staff Reference: Stephen Frank


The face of health care in Canada is changing. Shorter hospital stays, more outpatient treatment and an aging population with longer life expectancy are increasing the need for long-term care for many Canadians. Moreover, the demand for long-term care in Canada will increase dramatically as the baby boomer generation passes through old age. As a result, Canada is facing a significant and growing challenge with respect to ensuring that Canadians will have access to quality long-term care as they age.

This paper examines the future cost of long-term care in Canada over the next 35 years to support the baby boomers as they pass through old age and concludes that a significant funding gap exists. Conservatively, the cost in current dollars, of providing long-term care over this timeframe is almost $1.2 trillion. Current levels of government program and funding support will cover about $595 billion of this total cost. As a result, Canadians currently have an unfunded liability for long-term care of $590 billion which is the equivalent of about 95 percent all individual registered savings plans in Canada today.

Engaging in structural reform to transition patients to the most appropriate long-term care setting will not only enhance patient care, but will generate significant efficiency savings to governments of over $139 billion. These savings can then be re-invested into other long-term care initiatives to further improve patient care and address the funding shortfall. To this end, this paper proposes a number of recommendations organized around the following themes:

    • Encouraging Canadians to save for long-term care;
    • Patient centered approach to long-term care;
    • Restructuring of long-term care to recognize the continuum of care;
    • Ensuring sufficient capacity of long-term care; and
    • Encouraging health and wellness promotion.
Given the magnitude of the challenge, action is required now to ensure that Canadians will have access the long-term care that they will need. The Canadian life and health insurance industry stands ready to play an important role in supporting governments and stakeholders in the reform that will prepare the long-term care system to meet future demands.

Lengthy text; please download the PDF to read the rest of this report.