TIMMINS - KAPUSKASING — MPPs Guy Bourgouin (Mushkegowuk-James Bay) and Gilles Bisson (Timmins) said that the government’s days of shortchanging seniors care must come to an end.
The Official Opposition's recently released a plan to provide a record investment in seniors care will mean new long-term care spaces, ending the wait for home care and long-term care, and it will deliver appropriate cultural and linguistic care for the Francophone community in Northeastern Ontario, said the local MPPs during a virtual press conference on Friday. Because the Official Opposition have a plan to use a new model of more, smaller, family-like homes instead of largely institutional settings, more northern families will be able to find a long-term care bed close to home, close to their own family.
“Hundreds of families and seniors are on the wait list for long-term care ,” said Bourgouin. “COVID-19 has shown us that shortchanging the long-term care system does not work and has cost many lives. It is time to make a serious investment into long-term care to make sure that moms, dads and grandparents get the level of care they need, and health services in the language of their choice. That is the only way to keep them safe.”
Last week, Andrea Horwath, Leader of the Official Opposition, announced her plan for an overhaul of home care and long-term care in a new model built on small, family-like homes rather than institution-like facilities. The plan represents a record investment into the sector – including $750 million per year for eight years for capital expenses, and a ramp-up to a 30 per cent increase in the operating budget, reaching an additional $3 billion per year by 2028.
That’s in stark contrast to previous governments that have spent 30 years cutting and squeezing long-term care.
“The Premier has talked a lot, but he isn’t delivering or investing in the seniors care that families need in Timmins and in Northeastern Ontario,” said Bisson. “Families here need to see a substantial investment in long-term care, more beds, more home care and more hours of care. Seniors and their families can’t afford any more of Doug Ford’s cuts. Our plan represents a record investment in better care for seniors and peace of mind for their families.”
In addition to bringing home care and long-term care into the public and not-for-profit sector, and building 50,000 spaces, the Official Opposition’s plan commits to better paid, better-trained, full-time staff, so every resident will be guaranteed at least four hours of hands-on care each day. It also invests in care that is responsive to people’s culture and language.
Currently the Ontario government directly budgets $4.6 billion for long-term care and another $3.2 billion for home care. An estimated $645 million is spent in community supports and it is estimated another $375 million is spent caring for seniors in hospital beds while they wait for home care or long-term care. That is a total of $9 billion dollars.
The Official Opposition's plan includes record investment into better care and better living. The total cost of the plan is $750 million per year in each of eight years for one-time capital investments; plus $3 billion in annual operations costs, which represents a 30 per cent increase to the $9 billion currently spent annually for home and long-term care, which will be phased in with annual increases over six years.
The plan includes:
1. Overhauling home care to help people live at home longer
Ending the for-profit, understaffed patchwork of home care companies that make seniors wait and fail to address the inequities. This includes bringing the system into the public and non-profit sectors over eight years, as well as new provincial standards for home care services, and culturally-appropriate resources, training and job-matching
2. Making all long-term care public and not-for-profit
Ending greedy profit-making at the expense of quality of care. Horwath is committing to phase out for-profit operators within eight years, and increasing financial reporting, transparency and accountability during the transition period.
3. Building small, modern, family-like homes
The gloom of being warehoused in institution-like facilities is over. In a small town, it could look like a typical family home, shared by six to 10 people. In bigger cities, it could look more like a neighbourhood of villas.
4. Staffing up with full-time, well-paid, well-trained caregivers
Instead of the revolving door of staff run off their feet, the Official Opposition will give personal support workers a permanent wage boost of $5 an hour over their pre-pandemic wages. The Official Opposition will mandate enough staff to guarantee at least 4.1 hours of hands-on care per resident per day, establish a dedicated fund for training personal support workers, and more.
5. Making family caregivers partners
Loved ones will be treated like more than just visitors, including creating a provincial Caregiver Benefit Program and ensuring every home has an active family and resident council.
6. Creating culturally responsive, inclusive and affirming care
The Official Opposition will make sure seniors feel at home, surrounded by their language and culture, and make sure 2SLGBTQIA+ seniors can always live with Pride. This includes partnering with communities, Indigenous nations and 2SLGBTQIA+ communities to fund community homes, and more.
7. Clearing the wait list
Clearing the 38,000-person wait list that can mean years waiting for a bed, and even longer for a culturally appropriate home. The plan will create up to 50,000 spaces and eliminate the wait list within eight years.
8. Guaranteeing new and stronger protections
Comprehensive inspections, a Seniors’ Advocate, and more will ensure care never goes downhill again.