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Long waits, COVID toll blamed on ‘ageism’ in Ontario health care

Posted: March 26, 2021

(March 25, 2021)

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LONDON With Southwestern Ontario seniors waiting as long as four years for long-term care beds, it’s time for an inquiry into “ageism” in the province’s health-care system, a coalition of health, labour and seniors’advocates say.

The group, including the Ontario Health Coalition (OHC), Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU), Canadian Union of Public Employees'(CUPE) hospital division and the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly (ACE) is petitioning the Ontario Human Rights Commission for an inquiry.

“The COVID-19 crisis this past year has made all too apparent the existing inequities in access to health care for elderly Ontarians,” said lawyer Simran Prihar Wednesday. “In particular, it has brought much-needed public attention to the deeply disturbing conditions within long-term care facilities, which Ontario’s seniors have endured for far too long.”

Long waits for long-term care beds in the southwest – as long as four years in the Windsor, Sarnia and Chatham areas – are due to years of inadequate health-care funding by Ontario governments, the group argues. This has resulted in the loss of about 20,000 hospital beds and left more than 38,000 Ontarians waiting for long-term care beds.

According to their figures, almost 1,900 people seek long-term care beds in London and Middlesex and Elgin counties and face an average 156-day wait, or about five months, but some may wait as long as three years. It’s up to 3.3 years in Huron, Perth and Oxford counties.

Inadequate health-care funding also contributed to COVID’s disproportionate toll among the elderly and long-term care home residents, the groups said. That’s why an inquiry is needed into the impact of provincial funding policies on older Ontarians.

Premier Doug Ford’s Ontario government has vowed to create 30,000 long-term care spaces in Ontario by 2028. Of that, the province says it has more than 20,000 new beds in development. It’s also working to upgrade 16,000 existing spaces. BY THE NUMBERS London, Middlesex, Elgin ? 111 long-term care beds become available each month ? 1,893 people on waiting lists ? 1,078 days maximum waiting time Huron, Perth, Oxford ? 50 long-term care beds become available each month ? 826 people on waiting lists ? 1,209 days maximum wait time Windsor, Sarnia, Chatham* ? 1,371 days of maximum waiting time (*No waiting list data available) Source: Ontario Health Coalition, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, Canadian Union of Public Employees’ hospital division and the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly

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