With one week to go before the tabling of the 3rd CAQ budget, Réseau FADOQ is asking the Legault government to intensify its investments in home care and services.
“Seniors want to grow old in their own homes. Our members often stress the importance of this. But sufficient resources must be available and, unfortunately, this isn’t the case right now,” says Réseau FADOQ president Gisèle Tassé-Goodman.
Réseau FADOQ is asking Minister of Finance Éric Girard to expand the Financial Assistance Program for Domestic Help Services’ (French acronym, PEFSAD) basket of services and to increase the reimbursement rate of eligible expenses under the Tax Credit for Home Support for Seniors.
“More people need access to home care and needs assessment services. This should be a government priority. We’re also pressing for equitable distribution of the basket of services across Québec,” states Ms. Tassé-Goodman.
Réseau FADOQ applauds the Québec government’s $100 million investment in November 2020 to augment home support services. But one thing has not changed. Québec has a significant gap to make up in terms of investment in this sector compared to other countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Québec spends 1.3% of its gross domestic product on long-term care for seniors, which is well below the 1.7% average reported by other OECD countries.
The largest seniors organization in the country finds this incomprehensible since Québec is one of the most rapidly aging societies in the West. We must catch up starting now.
Réseau FADOQ is asking the Legault government to solve the care professional/patient ratio problems that have persisted for too long.
FADOQ invites the Québec government to implement solutions that would have a positive impact in the long term: increase the cohorts of students in health fields where there are significant staff shortages, work on the attractiveness and promotion of jobs available in the health network and increase efforts to decompartmentalize the professions.
“Assembly line care has gone on long enough. Health care workers should be able to devote themselves to their patients and meet their needs in a satisfactory way. We must humanize elder care,” insists Ms. Tassé-Goodman.
An agreement was recently reached between the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé (FIQ) and the Québec government regarding caregiving staff in CHSLDs, but it does not cover assisted living or institutions outside CHSLDs, notably geriatric units. This shortcoming must be remedied.
Enhancing seniors’ well-being
Réseau FADOQ believes that several measures can be implemented in the next budget to enhance seniors’ well-being. The first of these is the introduction of a subsidy, or coverage by the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ), for the purchase of dentures, eyeglasses and/or hearing aids for people aged 65 and over.
This is an essential measure to help low-income seniors. Many seniors have no private insurance, and public health insurance does not cover the cost of purchasing this assistive equipment.
“We must consider the financial impact of purchasing assistive devices, given that 60% of seniors aged 65 and over have an annual income of less than $30,000. A person’s budget can be severely shaken by an unanticipated expense,” says Ms. Tassé-Goodman.
Include shingles in the Québec Immunization Program
Réseau FADOQ is also calling for the inclusion of the shingles vaccine in Québec’s immunization program for people age 65 and over, as is the case for the pneumonia vaccine. Free coverage should be implemented starting this year.
The average annual cost of shingles to Québec’s health system is estimated at approximately $25 million. In February 2019, the Québec National Assembly unanimously passed a motion regarding the inclusion of shingles in the Québec Immunization Program. Since then, nothing has happened. The Réseau FADOQ is committed to closely monitoring developments in this file.