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Ontario Health Coalition calls for action on long-term care

Posted: June 25, 2020

(June 24, 2020)

By: Paul Morden, Sarnia Observer

Ontario should immediately launch a public inquiry into long-term care and withdraw its legislation to change the province’s home-care system, says the local chairperson of the Ontario Health Coalition.

Shirley Roebuck, who also sits on the provincial board of the group advocating for public health care, spoke Wednesday outside the Sarnia constituency office of Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey.

“We believe that Bill 175 should be withdrawn,” she said about the legislation the province says will modernize home and community care. “It was hastily written legislation and it breaks down a lot of public guarantees about oversight and safety, while promoting privatization of home care and community care.”

Bailey said in a statement issued by his office that the Ontario government’s top priority is strengthening the publicly funded health-care system and making it better for patients, families and caregivers.

“If anything has been made clear during this pandemic, it’s the need for improvements to the home-care system,” Bailey said. “That’s why we’re moving forward with modernizing the delivery of home and community care services by bringing an outdated system designed in the 1990s into the 21st century.”

Bailey said the government maintains “health service providers or Ontario Health Teams that provide home and community care services must be not-for-profit.”

He added, “Patients will benefit from primary care, hospitals, home, and community care and long-term care providers being able to collaborate to provide care that best meets individual care needs.”

Roebuck said she also wanted to draw attention Wednesday to the provincial government’s “total lack of intervention for long-term care.”

That comes after numerous groups and organizations have come forward with criticism of Ontario’s long-term care system in the past, and concerns have been raised about conditions at some nursing homes revealed during the pandemic, she said.

Steps the province has said it will take to look into the concerns fall short of what’s needed, particularly when it comes to private for-profit long-term care homes, she said.

“It’s time our government moves to take care of our long-term care residents,” and the first step should be a public inquiry, Roebuck said.

“My group believes that long-term care should be put under the protection of the public sector, and get rid of any for-profit nursing homes,” she added.

“We have to guarantee our elderly citizens a better outcome when they go into a long-term care home.”

Roebuck said she wants Bailey to know “your constituents are suffering, and you are responsible for doing something for them.”

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