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‘The system is completely broken,’ Horwath on long-term care

Posted: October 14, 2020

(October 13, 2020)

By: Ryan Forbes, Kenora Online

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says if she’s elected Premier, her party will transform the look of long-term care homes across the province.

In a virtual media conference, Horwath was joined by Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa and guest speaker Estelle Cantera, who told her family’s story of the mistreatment her mother suffered while living in a long-term care home facility.

Horwath unveiled an eight-year plan to create a new long-term care home system, which would include closing down for-profit facilities and moving seniors to smaller homes or communities, opposed to a large facility that ‘doesn’t feel like home’.

“The system is completely broken,” said Horwath. “Care homes and home-care are extremely short-staffed. People regularly get neglected. They get sick with dehydration and malnourishment. We have a revolving door of underpaid, part-time workers who are literally run off their feet.”

The NDP say if they’re elected, their eight-year plan would add tens of thousands of new spaces for seniors, and would eliminate the long-term care system’s extensive waiting list. It would also create culturally-relevant care, and would better support personal support workers.

“It’s a plan for the long-term care system that gives people a better quality of life, instead of taking it away. We will completely overhaul long-term care, so that’s it’s public, and not for-profit,” added Horwath.

The NDP’s plan would cost $750 million in capital investments, with $3 billion in annual operating costs.

Ontario says they’re currently investing $1.75 billion toward the long-term care home sector, and added legislation to ensure all facilities have air conditioning. On October 1, Ontario also announced another $461 million to temporarily raise hourly wages for personal support workers.

Long-term care homes have been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 65 per cent of Ontario’s COVID-19 related deaths coming from long-term care facilities.

In February, a study began into the sector’s staffing crisis. It found that 60 per cent of staff in long-term care homes are personal support workers, and 40 per cent of the PSW’s left within a year of graduating from their program.

On average, authors of the study found the wait time for a long-term care bed is 152 days, and in that time resident needs may continue to increase.

In July, Ontario’s Health Coalition surveyed 150 personal support workers about their working conditions. The survey found that 95 percent of the staff report that their long-term care homes are short staffed.

The healthcare sector ranks second highest for injuries resulting in time lost in Ontario, and long-term care workers are among the most at risk for physical injury within the sector.

Ontario’s next provincial election is set for June 2, 2022.

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