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BCLIBERALGOVERNMENTCAUCUS COLUMNW/SUPPORTINGCHARTS By Norm Letnick MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country (650 words) For immediate release July 6, 2011 SECOND OPINION In my first column, I outlined that the purpose of these monthly columns was to stimulate evidence-based dialogue on the challengesand opportunities facing our Health Care System. As a nation we are now investing more than 10.7 per cent of our GDP– $171.9billion or $5,170per person in 2008 – into health care. In 1984, the year the CanadaHealth Act was passed, we spent $37 billion. That's a difference of almost $135 billion. Population growth of 6.2 million people accounts for $13 billion and health sector inflation eats up another $42 billion, but that's still a huge increase. Economists call health care expenditures "sticky." That is to say, spending in health does not decreasewith recessions. This is why after the recessions of the 80s, 90s, and our current recession, the percent of national GDPspent on health has increased. In British Columbia there will be over one million people over the age of 65 by 2023. Over the past 50 years, the share of Canadians aged 65 and over has increased from 7.7 to 13.2 per cent. Statistics Canadaprojects that by 2026 that share will be 21.2 per cent. Per capita health care spending is highest for infants under the age of 1 ($7,437) and people 65 years of age and older ($9,502). In contrast, health care spending on Canadians between the agesof 1 and 64 averagesan estimated $1,735per person. Among seniors, there is also great variation. For those aged 65 to 69, the average per capita spending was $5,142in 2005. For those aged 85 to 89, per person spending reached $20,731. Canadians aged 65 and over accounted for an estimated 44 per cent of total provincial and territorial government health care spending in 2005. Infants account for about 3 per cent. Now in their 70s and 80s, the parents of the boomer generation are a relatively small group making intensive use of our health care system. The same cannot be said about the boomer generation to come. Given the disproportionate number of dollars to meet the health care needs of seniors, the boomers will force policy makers to rethink how health services are delivered in Canada. Fortunately, we have a few years before their impact will be greatest felt in the 2020s and 2030s. Since the turn of the century, Canadian fertility rates have declined from 3.5 children per woman to a nowsteady rate of 1.5 children, the anomaly being the post-war baby boom. In an effort to offset this, successive federal governments have adopted immigration policies, which support workforce expansion. From 1984 to 2005 immigration increased from 88,276to 251,643people per year. A concerted effort has also been made to increasethe number of new Canadians ready to join the workforce. Based on existing population age

distribution and current fertility and immigration patterns, Statistics Canadahas produced a future age distribution scenario for the upcoming 25 years, included below. Canadians are living longer, healthier lives. Although boomers will lead the way to increased health and longterm care infrastructure investment, that investment will also benefit future generations. As the boomers transition into their highest health care use years, a move away from our current pay-as-you-go system to more of an intergenerational equity philosophy may be required to support the significant front-end costs of this investment. The OECD'sconclusion is that the aging population will require an additional 2 to 3 per cent of GDPfor health care, not accounting for technological advances. Can the public health care system be sustained without having to resort to significant changesin our delivery model? This and other questions are what the bipartisan Select Standing Committee on Health has been tasked with answering. I encourage readers to send me any journal articles, reports, other evidence, and your opinions on this topic. Let’s be Facebook friends, or you are welcome to email me at Norm Letnick is the MLA for Kelowna Lake Country and The Chair of the Select Standing Committee on Health for British Columbia -30Media contact: Maclean Kay, B.C.Government CaucusCommunications: 250-952-0778

Healthcare Sustainability  

Norm's thoughts on the sustainability of our healthcare system

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