Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
August 27, 2001
League addresses issues facing Canada's aged
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
CALGARY — The problems of aging were clearly on the minds of about 750 women — almost all of whom were middle-aged or seniors — attending this year's national convention of the Catholic Women's League.
Of eight formal resolutions presented by the organization, half dealt with issues that mainly affect older Canadians — quality end-of-life care, arthritis, the Canada Pension Plan, and spousal benefits for Canadian Forces members.
Starting with a New Brunswick resolution, league members were told that a Senate committee last year found the health care system currently assigns a low priority to end-of-life care.
The CWL's Education and Health and Christian Family Life committee said that the federal government implemented none of the recommendations contained in the 1995 Senate report, Of Life and Death.
Despite an aging population, changing patterns of disease, shifting requirements in health care institutions, and an increase in the numbers of deaths in Canada, there has been no subsequent shift of resources to end-of-life care.
The CWL unanimously endorsed early action on three fronts:
Subsequently, the league dealt with a Saskatchewan resolution examining the impact of arthritis, which affects four million Canadians. Last year more than 600,000 Canadians were unable to work because of an arthritic disability.
Describing the situations as a "crisis," the New Brunswick CWL said, "The number of sufferers is predicted to increase dramatically over the next decade."
Yet as the number of patients grows, the number of rheumatologists is declining. Further, new and effective medications are either unavailable in Canada or prohibitively expensive.
As a result, the CWL unanimously urged the federal government to develop, in consultation with the provinces, a national strategy for enhancing services for people with arthritis, including equal access to improved and affordable drug therapies.
Moving on to pensions, members were told that upon the death of a Canada Pension Plan contributor, the surviving spouse - if over age 65 — is eligible to receive 60 per cent of the contributor's CPP pension.
If the surviving spouse is also receiving a retirement pension, however, that person receives a lesser amount based on his or her own pension.
So the CWL called on the federal government to calculate survivor benefits solely on the contributor's income, not the circumstances of the surviving spouse.
Finally, it endorsed a resolution from the CWL's Military Ordinariate asking the federal government to grant spouses of deceased Canadian Forces members an annuity equal to 60 per cent of a deceased spouse's pension.
That's equal to what the spouses of members of Parliament receive and would be up from the current level of 50 per cent.
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