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CANADA: Worries grow over paying boomers' health bills

Doctor's group says the current health system is based on the demographics of 30 years ago

CHARLOTTETOWN — A survey commissioned by the Canadian Medical Association indicates there is growing concern about how to pay for the care of aging baby boomers.

The association presented its findings today to a gathering of federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for seniors.

The poll of 3,352 people suggests citizens are pessimistic about the existing system's ability to cope, with six in 10 of those surveyed saying they believe they will delay their retirement date in order to pay added health costs.

Canadians aged between 45 and 54 were most likely to agree with this statement, with the concern most pronounced in Atlantic Canada — which has the oldest population in the country.

The Ipsos poll conducted between Feb. 25 and March 4 is described as accurate within 1.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Dr. Gigi Osler, president of the Canadian Medical Association, says she's telling the gathering of ministers in Charlottetown that the current health system is based on the demographics of three decades ago, when the population was much younger.

The doctors group is advocating for new federal investments in seniors care through the Canada Health Transfer, with a "demographic top-up" of $21 billion over 10 years — divided among the provinces and territories based on the percentage of seniors in their population.

In addition, it is suggesting the creation of an income-based, seniors' care tax credit to provide direct financial support to seniors and their caregivers.

The Canadian Press