Navigating the boomer glacier

A column by MLA Norm Letnick

In Canada, health care is an expression of compassion.

And while compassion is at its core, it’s still necessary to understand the economic and demographic issues impacting health care demand and delivery. Policy makers need this information to make decisions to best utilise scarce taxpayer dollars.

On June 22, Premier Christy Clark charged the bipartisan 10-member Select Standing Committee on Health with developing a long-term plan for our health system. Not because it will be easy, but because it must be done if we want to navigate the health care system through the coming “Boomer Glacier” and beyond.

There are strong and often differing opinions on what impact the Boomers will have on B.C.’s health system, and what changes should be introduced. With Health currently consuming approximately 41 per cent of our provincial budget and with so many parties having a financial or personal stake, discussions can quickly become passionate and polarised.   Some project health care consuming over 60 per cent of the provincial budget. Others, like the OECD, estimate our ageing population will require Canadian health expenditures to rise from about 11 per cent to 14 per cent of GDP.

The Premier’s decision to re-engage the committee after a five-year hiatus is timely and smart; the first wave of Boomers is turning 65. Many of them are sandwiched between caring for ageing parents, while still caring for children who live at home.

The first part of the committee’s mandate is to assess the Boomers’ potential impact on our health system as they age over the next 25 years and construct an economic model – a road map, if you will – with likely scenarios and benchmarks. Over the next few months, a subcommittee of three members will consult with experts on options, which will be presented to the full committee sometime this fall.

The second phase of committee work will most likely start in 2012. This will involve a rigorous review of potential system changes.

The last phase is to present the public with our findings (in other words, the challenges), a number of potential system changes to mitigate them (in other words, potential solutions), and from there, to measure their level of public support.  It will likely take a year or more of work for our bipartisan committee to submit its final report to the legislature.  It is my hope that the committee will be charged every five years to measure progress and update the plan as needed.

By creating a bipartisan 25-year plan for health care in B.C., we are breaking new ground. With your participation and the guidance of some extremely well-qualified experts and MLAs on this committee – including two former ministers of health, two physicians, former ministers of finance, education, and advanced education – we are all excited about the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of all British Columbians.

Both those around today, and those who will come after the Boomer Glacier has passed.

 

 

 

Norm Letnick is MLA for Kelowna – Lake Country. Visit his website at www.normletnickmla.bc.ca.

Just Posted

Lake Country human rights leader honoured at Vernon school

Alaina Podmorow, 22, was inducted into Mission Hill Elementary’s Hall of Fame

Warriors looking for Teddy, hoping for win

West Kelowna hosts their annual Teddy Bear Toss fundraiser Saturday night

Two Okanagan players join Team Canada for Womens U18 World Championships

Anne Cherkowski and Sarah Paul will join the womens World Juniors team Dec. 26

WATCH: ‘Stubborn’ fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

The building, which lit up in flames around 2 a.m., was an infamous spot to Big White locals

Rockets drop second straight, conclude 6-game road trip Saturday in Moose Jaw

Kelowna fell short against the Regina Pats 4-3 Friday night

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

B.C. VIEWS: Hunger does not end with the season

Despite innovations in food distribution, the need is still there in B.C. communities

Kelowna RCMP officer allegedly sexts assault victim

RCMP confirm investigation but hold back details

Legendary primatologist coming to Okanagan

Dame Jane Goodall, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, will present in Vernon Tuesday, March 24

Old Christmas card has ties to Summerland agriculture

Card was sent by former director of Summerland Research Station

Sharks beat Canucks 4-2 to snap 6-game skid

Vancouver visits Vegas on Sunday

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

Frosty will have to pay rent to stay on Okanagan sidewalk next Christmas

Vernon Teach and Learn allowed to keep Frosty up, but will need a permit come January 1

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Most Read