DURHAM — Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath and Ontario’s New Democrats have a plan to help Durham seniors access long-term care when and where they need it. Horwath’s recently launched plan to overhaul long-term care and home care in Ontario would clear the provincial waitlist for long-term care over eight years by building 50,000 new spaces starting in 2022, in small, modern communities that feel like home.
That will make a big difference for Durham area families, who face the longest waits for long-term care in the province, said Horwath and NDP MPP Jennifer French (Oshawa), who hosted a press conference virtually in Durham on Wednesday.
The NDP’s plan, Aging Ontarians Deserve the Best, will deliver the 50,000 long-term care beds that the province is projected to need by 2030. To make it happen, a New Democrat government would make record capital investments of $750 million a year for eight years.
“No one should be left living in a hospital bed for years. No one should be left to try to care for mom or dad around the clock until a long-term care space opens up. But that’s exactly what’s happening, with wait lists out of control and for-profit home care providers just not providing enough timely support,” said Horwath. “We can help seniors live in their own homes longer by fixing and investing in home care, and we can ensure seniors have access to high-quality long-term care when and where they need it by building 50,000 more long-term care spaces.”
In 10 years, the previous Liberal government allowed the wait list to grow by a whopping 78 per cent. Between 2011 and 2018, that government build just 611 individual beds in long-term care. Doug Ford has only made the wait lists longer, having built just 34 beds since taking office. As a result, the wait list now has over 38,000 people.
“Long-term care homes, and the long wait times, have been getting worse and worse for years under Liberal and Conservative governments,” said Horwath. “Let’s stop shortchanging and cutting on the backs of seniors and finally invest in a plan that gives everyone quality of life, and quality of care, as they age.”
“After my father’s medical issues were resolved following a stroke, he spent seven months in the hospital waiting for placement in a long-term care home. My mother was required to pick three homes. Really it wasn’t much of a choice at all. The most desired homes had long wait lists. The less desirable homes came up first. My mother felt pressured to select the first one, which was Orchard Villa. My father was one of the first two deaths at Orchard Villa during the pandemic.”
An FAO report found that the Central East LHIN has the longest wait-time for a long-term care bed:
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.