RE: Government of Ontario’s Fall Preparedness Plans for Health and Long-Term Care
Dear Premier Doug Ford,
The Council on Aging of Ottawa is writing to express our disappointment in your recently released plans to address COVID-19 in the health and long-term care (LTC) sectors.
In our opinion, these plans are too late and too short-term in focus. The proposed incentives will make little more than a ripple in the many needed changes for long-term care and to keep LTC residents safer in this second COVID wave. The province needs to do so much more.
While COVID-19 forced everyone into crisis mode, the weaknesses in the LTC sector have been known for many years. The most critical need is for more staff. We need a strong recruitment and retention strategy bolstered by safe and supportive workplaces for LTC health workers. Temporary wage increases until March 2021 and one-time hiring bonuses for personal support workers won’t be enough to attract and retain sufficient staff in this sector.
The system needs a minimum care standard of not less than 4 hours/resident/day and LTC health workers, particularly personal support workers need to see permanent pay raises and permanent jobs with full benefits. These important changes will help stabilize this sector faster than anything else. Countless studies and expert advisors, including this Council and your Staffing Study released this July, have recommended these policy changes. Ontario can’t afford to wait any longer to make these changes.
The old models of funding, regulating, inspection, and building design need to be replaced with forward-thinking ones that will foster excellence and innovation in long-term care. We need to see more person-centred care and more home-like residences integrated into the wider community while providing quality health care service. Long-term care should not be feared by Ontarians but should be a source of pride, nationally and internationally. LTC cannot continue to be the weak link in our health care system.
Seniors cannot be “dumped” into LTC without the assurance of good care being delivered and monitored. They cannot be warehoused in multi-beds wards with weak infection prevention and control measures. They cannot continue to live without sufficient staff to meet their essential care needs. Essential family caregivers should not be expected to shoulder additional care responsibilities.
Our seniors and other residents living in LTC homes feel neglected and isolated. Many are not living in dignity and they feel increasingly abandoned by Ontario. Seniors are fearful about going into LTC and so are their families. We don’t treat our young children in daycare like this. You promised an “iron ring” to protect LTC residents. We expect you to live up to your word. We need to see real progress and accountability in the LTC sector now.
President, Board of Directors
The Honourable Christine Elliott, M.P.P. Newmarket-Aurora, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health
The Honourable Merrilee Fullerton, M.P.P. Kanata-Carleton, Minister of Long-Term Care
The Honourable Raymond Cho, M.P.P. Scarborough North, Minister of Seniors and Accessibility
The Honourable Caroline Mulroney, M.P.P. York-Simcoe, Minister of Francophone Affairs
Ottawa area M.P.P.s