October 15th, 2020
October 15th, 2020
NORTH BAY — Starting in 2022, Andrea Horwath will create 50,000 new long-term care spaces, ending the wait for home care and long-term care, and within eight years will make the entire system public and not-for-profit. The Leader of the Official Opposition was in North Bay virtually Wednesday to say that, if she becomes premier, years of underfunding, short-changing and trying to save a buck at the expense of seniors is over.
“Thousands of families have been devastated by the death of a loved one in long-term care,” said Horwath. “We have to take action now to make sure people are safe in nursing homes and during home-care visits throughout the second wave. But we know the problems didn’t start with COVID-19 — they go back decades, through years of Liberal and Conservative governments shortchanging our parents and grandparents.”
Last week, Horwath, Leader of the Official Opposition New Democrats, 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. Horwath’s plan is a comprehensive and detailed blueprint for an eight-year transition from a fragmented, privatized and poorly regulated system to well-regulated and well-staffed public and not-for-profit system. It 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 Conservative and Liberal governments that have spent 30 years cutting and squeezing long-term care.
The Mike Harris Conservatives cut one out of every 12 hospital and long-term care staff – firing nearly 25,000 health care workers. Harris privatized long-term care, selling off the care of seniors to for-profit corporations. But instead of undoing that damage, the former Liberal government — including Dalton McGuinty, Kathleen Wynne and Steven Del Duca — chose to cut health-care spending even more. They froze hospital budgets, and stopped building desperately needed long-term care beds.
Between 2011 and 2018, the Liberals added just 611 beds. Between 2018 and today, the Ford government has built just 34 beds, and planned a further $34 million in cuts to long-term care.
“The days of short-changing our loved ones have to end,” said Horwath. “Imagine a government that stops making excuses to justify cutting and squeezing long-term care, and starts investing in a better quality of life for all aging Ontarians. Our plan represents a record investment in better care for our moms and dads, and more peace of mind for families.”
In addition to bringing home care and long-term care into the public and not-for-profit sector, and building 50,000 spaces, Horwath’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.
Ann McIntyre, whose husband has MS and lives in a long-term care home
“We have all heard the comment from family or friends ‘Please do not put me in a home.’ It is only after my long experience with long-term care with my mother and now my husband, that I have realized the true magnitude of this comment. None of us would want to end our lives ‘there’ given the inadequacies of the system. This is in spite of all the wonderful efforts of staff. The COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted the inadequacies of the system even more. Now is the time for action by everyone.”
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 NDP 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 NDP 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. An NDP government will immediately start building small nursing homes that actually feel like home. Based on best practices from around the world, the NDP will build smaller living spaces shared by groups of six to 10 people. In a small town, it could look like a typical family home. 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 NDP will give personal support workers a permanent wage boost of $5 an hour over their pre-pandemic wages. The NDP 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
The NDP will treat loved ones 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 NDP 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 NDP 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.