Choose your settings
Choose your language
Economic Viewpoint

Healthcare Health Check: Using Innovation to Deliver a Clean Bill of Health to Older Canadians

April 25, 2024
Florence Jean-Jacobs, Principal Economist • Kari Norman, Economist

While Canadian seniors are generally in good health, the sheer increase in their numbers will drive up healthcare expenditures. By 2044, people over age 65 are expected to represent about 23% of the population, up from 18.5% in 2021.

Any examination of healthcare resources—human and capital—should look not only at acute care, but also public health programs, preventative care, long-term care and palliative care.

Provinces should plan ahead to ensure there is an adequate number of skilled workers and sufficient infrastructure to meet future needs, particularly in fields involved in senior health. The importance of unpaid caregiving by family members can’t be overstated. Excluding childcare, it’s currently valued at over $97 billion annually (equivalent to 4% of GDP).

Technology and innovation will be essential to meeting growing demand for healthcare, addressing cost pressures, and improving the health and quality of life of seniors. Remote monitoring using sensors and smart devices, digital health services and apps, artificial intelligence (AI), immunotherapy, 3D printing and ethical big data management for patient records will all be key.

One area that promises to have the highest impact—in terms of both health outcomes and cost efficiency—is novel care models that shift the emphasis away from institutionalization and towards aging at home. These models encompass age-friendly cities and communities, smart home devices and designs, and local multidisciplinary teams that provide home care.

Governments can foster greater adoption and integration of technologies via a comprehensive approach that accounts for the social determinants of health and leverages community-based actors. Public–private innovation partnerships and funding arrangements can ensure faster rollout and commercialization of geriatric technologies. But policymakers should also work to make tech available to everyone, especially among more vulnerable groups.

NOTE TO READERS: The letters k, M and B are used in texts, graphs and tables to refer to thousands, millions and billions respectively. IMPORTANT: This document is based on public information and may under no circumstances be used or construed as a commitment by Desjardins Group. While the information provided has been determined on the basis of data obtained from sources that are deemed to be reliable, Desjardins Group in no way warrants that the information is accurate or complete. The document is provided solely for information purposes and does not constitute an offer or solicitation for purchase or sale. Desjardins Group takes no responsibility for the consequences of any decision whatsoever made on the basis of the data contained herein and does not hereby undertake to provide any advice, notably in the area of investment services. Data on prices and margins is provided for information purposes and may be modified at any time based on such factors as market conditions. The past performances and projections expressed herein are no guarantee of future performance. Unless otherwise indicated, the opinions and forecasts contained herein are those of the document’s authors and do not represent the opinions of any other person or the official position of Desjardins Group.