Trying times for China’s aging population . . .
A new APF Canada report highlights the growth of China’s senior population and opportunities for Canada to fill anticipated gaps in care. The report comes amid revelations that older people and people with pre-existing conditions appear to be most susceptible to becoming severely ill or dying from the coronavirus that originated in central China. The vulnerability of this demographic group highlights China’s challenges in addressing the needs of its senior population, which is growing rapidly. In 2017, 240 million people (or 17 per cent) of China’s population were senior citizens (people over 60 years old). By 2030, that number is expected to jump to 25 per cent, and by 2050, to 35 per cent of the population.
Changing government policies . . .
To address the challenges of caring for this aging population, since 2012 the Chinese government has promoted the entry of private providers – including foreign senior care providers – into its senior care sector, and given these providers preferential tax treatment. Favourable government policies have also allowed foreign investors and Chinese real estate and insurance companies to enter China’s upscale senior care residence market. In most cases, however, these firms have not been able to turn a profit because of the high cost of living in private facilities, and because prevailing social norms requiring families to care for their elders at home have led to low occupancy rates.
Canadian successes an opportunity . . .
A Winnipeg-based public hospital, Seven Oakes, entered the Chinese market in 2015 through its non-profit enterprise, The Canada Wellness Institute. In collaboration with Chinese partners it established medical fitness centres to manage and prevent chronic diseases in both Rizhao (Shandong Province) and Beijing. Toronto-Based Baycrest Hospital, which specializes in brain health, is also entering the Chinese market. Chinese experts anticipate that in 10-to-15 years, when a more affluent generation of Chinese retire, the senior care market will take off. In the aftermath of the coronavirus, China is also likely to launch a new series of reforms in both the medical and senior care systems. Given their good reputation in China, Canadian hospitals and senior care providers should pay close attention to China’s evolving senior care sector.
- Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada: China’s evolving senior care sector: Opportunities for Canadian care providers and businesses
- KPMG: China pension landscape: The year in review and what’s ahead
- The Globe and Mail: Despite political tensions, Canadian health clinic finds success in China