Transforming Canadian Health Care through Consumer Engagement: The Key to Quality and System Innovation

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Canadians are living longer today than ever before. Life expectancy for Canadian women is expected to rise from 82.9 years in 2006 to 87.3 years in 2036. Men are expected to increase their life spans from 78.2 years in 2006 to 84 years in 2036; precisely when the longevity of the Baby Boomer generation will result in persons over 65 years of age accounting for 24.6% of Canada’s total population. With Canadians living longer, the burden of ever-increasing demands falls on the health care system. Demands will grow exponentially as older Canadians demand and strive to maintain their independence and quality of life.

The aging Canadian population is increasingly challenged by chronic illnesses that place greater demands on Canada’s publicly funded health care systemii. Increasing instances of the most prevalent chronic illnesses in Canada, including diabetes, heart disease and stroke, ensure pharmaceutical costs are perpetually increasing. Health system resources are spread thin to maintain the availability of hospital beds and meet the demand for health services that comes with an increasing volume of elderly patients. Given the limitations of current health service infrastructure, at some time in the coming decades, every hospital bed in Canada could be occupied by an elderly patient admitted for joint replacement surgery.

iiConference Board of Canada. 2006. Healthy Provinces, Healthy Canadians: A Provincial Benchmarking Report. February, 2006.