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Singh tables motion to end for-profit long-term care as calls to reform system build

Posted: March 23, 2021

(March 22, 2021)

By: Janet E Silver, iPolitics

A worker waves from inside Grace Villa in Hamilton on Dec. 5, 2020, during a rally in support of workers inside the long-term care home. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has introduced a motion to end for-profit long-term care by 2030. (John Rennison/Hamilton Spectator)

As the list of health care and seniors’ advocates urging reform to long-term care (LTC) in Canada grows, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh tabled a motion in the House of Commons on Monday that would call for the end of the for-profit LTC industry.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted discrepancies in LTC in Canada, with the majority of deaths from the virus in the country coming in LTC homes — many of which are privately owned. Those differences have been highlighted even further during the rollout of COVID vaccines.

“Ontario’s vaccine rollout in its LTC homes has been the most haphazard across Canada,” an LTC COVID website managed and funded by the International Long-Term Care Policy Network said.

The motion introduced by Singh is calling on the government to: transition all for-profit care homes to not-for-profit homes by 2030; stop licenses for any new for-profit care facilities; and, invest an additional $5 billion over the next four years in long-term care.

“What we have learned from the pandemic (is that) it has exposed problems (with) profit in long-term care, we have to change the system,” Singh said on Monday.

He went on to say he believes that some conservative premiers don’t care about seniors in long-term care, “we see this with (Ontario Premier Doug) Ford, (Saskatchewan Premier) Scott Moe and (Manitoba Premier Brian) Pallister.”

Singh is also calling for the Revera-run seniors’ homes, a for-profit chain of over 500 seniors’ homes in Canada, to immediately be turned into a publicly managed entity. Revera is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Public Sector Pension Investment Board, a federal Crown corporation, meaning it’s controlled by the federal government.

Meanwhile, long-term care advocates across the country have added their voice to calls to end for-profit homes and for the federal government to increase funding and establish national standards for long-term care.

Steven Shrybman, a partner at the law firm Goldblatt Partners LLP, said at a press conference on Monday that ultimately for-profit long-term care homes need to be eliminated.

He also outlined his findings of a legal opinion on national standards for long-term care homes.

Those standards include: specific standards on resident-to-staff care ratios with a set minimum hours of direct care, standards to outline specific work/duties to be done by full-time staff and national standards for certification and qualifications for all long-term care staff. Shrybman went on to say the federal government needs to take responsibility for LTC and they need to adopt a law outlining this role.

According to the federal Health Care Act, which became law in 1984, LTC and nursing homes are not a part of Canada’s health care system, an omission which Shrybman says must now be addressed.

Cole Davidson, press secretary to Health Minister Patty Hajdu, said that “while long-term care is a responsibility of the provinces and territories, we are committed to working with them to develop national standards,” in a statement to iPolitics.

Davidson pointed to a series of federal-provincial-territorial health minister calls, plus bilateral calls, to discuss long-term care.

“The development of strong and coherent national standards will take time; we are committed and have already begun this important work,” Davidson said.

MPs are expected to vote on Singh’s motion, which is not binding, on Tuesday.

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