Home > Health Quality Council Blog > One in five Canadians is retirement age. Is our healthcare system ready?  
October 26, 2023

One in five Canadians is retirement age. Is our healthcare system ready?  

Justine Cleghorn
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With life expectancy on the rise, we’re living longer, fuller lives than ever before.

For many of us, that means more quality time spent with family and a deeper sense of fulfillment – but with longevity comes an increased likelihood of developing chronic health issues, many of which require more complex health and social services.

On top of complex medical needs, most Canadians want to age at home, in their communities, however, our current healthcare system isn’t set up to accommodate our needs as we age.

97% of Saskatchewan residents over 65 years of age say they’ll do everything they can to avoid moving into a long-term care home.
– National Institute on Aging

With seniors being the fastest-growing population in Canada, it’s more important than ever to ensure older adults have access to the supports they need to age with dignity.

What does an aging population mean for Canada?

The reality is older adults rely on our healthcare system more than any other demographic. In 2020, Canadians aged 65 and over comprised 18% of the population but were responsible for 43.6% of the country’s public health spending, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

Over the next 20 years, the CIHI projects Canada’s senior population – those age 65 and older – will grow by 68%.

Given our rapidly growing aging population, it’s clear there’s a critical need to find innovative ways to provide access to care that fits their needs – and our future.

What can we do?

At the Saskatchewan Health Quality Council (HQC), we recognize the urgency of addressing this complex community need. Supporting older adults thrive at home, wherever that may be, is and will continue to be a cornerstone of our strategic focus.

Naturally, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but we know strengthening community-based care and services is a key aspect of supporting older adults age where they call home.

Creating communities that allow adults to age where they call home will:

  • address the social determinants of health that affect healthy aging
  • decrease demand on acute care resources
  • reduce wait times for long-term care and in-patient hospital beds
  • allow older adults to live more independent, active and dignified lives

Facilitating this will require intersectoral collaboration between health and social services, local municipalities, and local community-based organizations. Several provincial and national groups are actively engaged in testing and implementing ideas to improve health for seniors, however, these activities aren’t coordinated. That’s where HQC comes in.  

We act as a conductor of change by strengthening connections between those working to support older adults across multiple sectors, simultaneously creating a community of shared practices, learning, and support.

Through coordinated collective action, we can cultivate real, tangible change in our province.

Working together for a healthier future

With great complexity, comes great responsibility – but also great opportunity.

By working together, learning from one another, and sharing practices, we can drive innovation forward and reimagine what it means to age with dignity in Saskatchewan.