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Coalition reports long-term care increasingly a for-profit service

Posted: December 5, 2021

(December 4, 2021)

By: Francis Racine, Kingston Whig-Standard (Print Edition)

A report by the Ontario Health Coalition released Monday revealed the majority of provincial licences to operate long-term care beds may well be allocated to private, for-profit facilities.

What’s more, the Ontario Health Coalition, through its 72-page report titled “Public Money, Private Profit: The Ford Government & the Privatization of the Next Generation of Ontario’s Long-Term Care,” stated more than 12,000 of these beds are slated to be given to private organizations with poor results during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the report, a total of about 46,000 beds are supposed to be built and licensed by approximately 2024-25, with an additional 15,000 new beds added by 2028-30. Currently, Ontario’s stock of long-term care beds sits at about 77,000.

Locally, the Health Coalitions of Kingston, Cornwall and Ottawa hosted a virtual news conference on Thursday morning to discuss the report and also share challenges being felt in the three cities.

In her remarks, Louise Lanctot, president of the Cornwall and Area Labour Council and co-chair of the Cornwall Health Coalition, spoke of the uphill battles non-profit or municipally run LTC facilities face when competing against their for-profit counterparts.

“In Cornwall, we have the Glen Stor Dun Lodge,” she said. “It’s the largest facility in our area and it was not given any beds because they didn’t apply for any in this new round. The reason there is that the municipality doesn’t have the money to put in the capital cost to do these beds.”

A full breakdown of the beds and licences proposed in eastern Ontario, taken from the report, is available with this article – local info is printed with this article.

Unlike private LTC facilities, non-profits don’t always have access to large sums of capital funds.

“In Long Sault, one of the homes there, run by Omni Care Healthcare, received 17 new beds and upgrades for 111 beds,” Lanctot said. “This is a home that had a fourmonth COVID outbreak during the pandemic.”

She also alleged staff members at the home were refused N95 masks after being told no residents had tested positive for the virus yet.

“As a result, many of those PSWs did catch COVID and one of them, I suspect, is permanently injured,” Lanctot said. “I spoke to her and she’s on oxygen and needs a walker to get around.”

Matthew Gventer, the chair of the Kingston Health Coalition, claimed the culture of LTCs in the province has been distorted by the for-profit sector.

“They have had many years to correct problems that they have, and now they are trying to correct it by getting us to pay for the new builds,” he said. “In general, that reflects the problems that we have, with giving grants and allocating beds to the for-profits. Their motivation is not care – it’s profit.”

When asked if she believed the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic had resulted in the uncovering of a multitude of issues in the private LTC sector, the Ottawa Health Coalition’s co-chair, Mary Catherine McCarthy, answered yes.

“I think that the pandemic exposed the lack of preparedness,” she said. “The government wasn’t prepared materially to handle the pandemic. I think that they were relying too much on the for-profit sector. There has been such a blatant disaster in nursing homes, with people dying not only of COVID but also from starvation and neglect because they haven’t gotten any care or not enough people to provide it.”

“One of (family members of residents’) great frustrations is that they have been speaking about this for years and no one was listening,” Ed Cashman, the co-chair of the Ottawa Health Coalition, added. “The additional frustration was that it was only when the military went in and wrote their report that the prime minister woke up. But the truth is that they knew about this.”

A handful of individuals, whose family members are currently residing or had resided in long-term care homes, also shared their harrowing stories.

Betty Yakimenko’s mother currently lives in an Orleans longterm care home.

“As soon as she went in, we could see the issues right away, just in terms of the care that she received, which we didn’t feel were strong enough, knowing the type of people she was,” she said. “There had been a couple of incidents in terms of a fall and something which I will call a medication mishap. She declined quite rapidly after that.

“We would go in and she was sitting in a dirty diaper, let’s put it that way. They would take her to a meal like that. That’s ludicrous.”

New Licences in Process to For-Profit Chain Operators?

Extendicare Kingston will be adding 42 new spaces in addition to transfer and upgrade 150 eligible spaces (previous allocated). This will result in a 192-bed building at a new site located at 700 Gardiners Rd. in Kingston. The consultation for this proposal has closed but no decision has been announced, according to the Ministry of Long-Term Care consultation website.

New licences in process for Non-Profit Operators?

Providence Manor Kingston has proposed to build 77 new spaces and upgrade 243 existing spaces, resulting in a new 320-bed home at a new location in Kingston. The project is called Providence Manor Redevelopment. The licence proposal is for a term of up to 30 years. This proposal was approved.

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