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Sudbury letter: Use election to fix long-term care

Posted: May 13, 2022

(May 11, 2022)

By: Letter to the editor, Sarnia & Lambton County This Week

A person holding a sign

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Melissa Wood, co-chair of the Sudbury chapter of the Ontario Health Coalition, highlights health-care challenges in the province, including a shortage of personal support workers and further privatization of long-term care. PHOTO BY JIM MOODIE/SUDBURY STAR

The provincial June election is approaching and it is our moral duty to look back at the tragedy that occurred in our long-term care (LTC) homes.

Successive governments ignored the warning signs and failed to fix the problems. It appears spending time and money on these issues doesn’t garner enough votes to win an election. In 2020, the pandemic hit like a shock wave and brought all of these shortcomings together into a “perfect storm,” resulting in more than 4,000 of our loved ones dying in LTC homes in Ontario.

Governments failed to protect vulnerable elders in LTC, which caused high levels of suffering. It is time to hold our politicians accountable to improve the LTC system.

This election provides an opportunity to fix the badly damaged LTC homes and restore confidence in our health-care system as a whole. Politicians will recite the many initiatives and how much money they have put into the problem, yet the results fall short of improving LTC.

We believe there is an opportunity for true, transformational change, and only a new vision of building and operating will change the course. There are three priorities the provincial government must address:

– Devise a province-wide strategy to attract and retain robust staffing levels to deliver the person-centred care outlined in the Fixing Long Term Act, 2021. This can only be accomplished if front-line staff are compensated and respected.

– Move away from the current institutional standards of building and help create smaller, home-like settings with private accommodations. These models are healthier, more comfortable settings with access to outdoors, fresh air, and ventilation designed with infection prevention in mind.

– Bring back enhanced provincial oversight protocols of LTC homes. Reinstitute “resident quality inspections” and link bad management, and repeated and major non-compliance with appropriate penalties.

We know what has to be done. I urge all voters to remember the tragic events of the last two years when you speak to the candidates. Your vote can make a difference.

Terry Martyn, co-chair

Ontario North Family Councils Network

Sudbury

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