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Group wants province to shift long-term care focus away from for-profit companies

Posted: December 1, 2021

(November 30, 2021)

By: Germain Ma, CityNews

long term care bed

Long term care bed / Stock photo

The Waterloo Region Health Coalition is calling on the Ford government to stop allocating the majority of new beds at long-term care facilities to for-profit companies.

A new report by the Ontario Health Coalition finds that chains which were responsible for the worst death rates during the pandemic have gotten the most licences to add new beds.

It says that many of the projects have not received final approval yet and there is still time to stop the for-profit privatization of them.

According to the report, out of 30,436 long-term care licences in progress, 16,304 were given to for-profit ownership.

It says that before the pandemic, 57 per cent of Ontario’s long-term care homes were for-profit and during the pandemic, the province saw the worst long-term care mass casualty in its history.

During a news conference, Jean Kheul, a retired registered nurse who worked in long-term care said that the death rate at for-profits is much higher than at non-profits.

“They are supposed to examine past performance before granting the beds. We have already seen this is not going to happen unless we get loud. The province has proposed doubling fines for negligence, non-compliance, et cetera. So what? They didn’t apply any of them during the pandemic,” Kheul said.

Susan Watson, whose family member passed away in a long-term care facility supported the call for the province to publicly deliver new long-term care beds.

“They need to be publicly funded and as far as I’m concerned, there’s no place for profit-driven decisions in these institutions,” Watson said.

Watson said that long-term care is now really hospital care, and not an “old-age home,” and added that the province needs to reinstate the coroner review of every tenth death in long-term care.

Watson also said that a person who is actively dying needs more than four hours of care per day, which is something the Ford government has been working to deliver.

Marilyn Hay, chair for the Kitchener-Waterloo chapter of the Council of Canada said that Ontario has the worst rate of death in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which includes 38 countries that account for approximately 80 per cent of trade in the world.

Hay said, “You would imagine that our government would want to take hold of that, find out what went wrong, ensure that we got this right, that it never happened again. Well, that’s not what happened.”

Hay called for a tribunal system to be put in place to ensure patients’ rights are respected, instead of court processes.

She added that not-for-profit facilities have far more staff and much better programs because they’re not pocketing profits and are putting money back into patient care.

“I have to wonder, where is the outrage? Why aren’t we in the streets to ensure these people are protected. We need real accountability and we really need it now for the people who are still vulnerable, who are still suffering,” said Hay.

The coalition is warning that the Ford government is in the process of setting up the province for another generation of for-profit long-term care, unless there is enough public outrage to stop it.

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