Building on the diverse experience, expertise, and perspective of our network, the COA provided the attached comments on Bill 37, An Act to enact Providing More Care, Protecting Seniors, and Building More Beds Act, 2021 that proposed revisions to two separate acts, the Fixing Long-Term Care Act, 2021, and Strengthening the Retirement Homes Act (RHA), 2010.
In our view, the Government has missed an opportunity to present a new vision for long-term care in Ontario and support real transformation in this sector. The proposed Act does not address the important issues of ownership, funding, and conditions of work, among others. The sections on care and services must be strengthened to ensure that the four (4) hours of direct care are a minimum care standard for each and every home rather than a target. The Council also strongly urges the Government to implement this care standard as soon as possible and not wait four more years.
The Strengthening the Retirement Homes Act has not had the attention needed to address changes in this sector. Due to the lack of sufficient time to examine the specific articles in the Act and to consult with other seniors and legislative experts, the COA strongly recommends that Ontarians be given more time to consult with the community and the government on the Strengthening the Retirement Homes Act, 2010. In particular, the Council is concerned with the changing care needs of residents living in retirement homes and ensuring that quality care standards are developed and implemented commensurate with protection provided in other care facilities.
This omnibus bill combines two different pieces of legislation that fall under two different Ministries. Bill 37 provides an opportunity to address and ensure coherence in addressing the similarities of the two Acts, in particular for care provided by both long-term care homes and retirement homes. Beyond the similarities, the legal parameters defining a relationship between a tenant and landlord (as in the case of retirement homes) are very different than that of a resident and a care home (as in the case of long-term care (LTC)), and Bill 37 represents an opportunity to clarify those for Ontarians.
Finally, the COA recommends this provincial government show leadership in Ontario by developing a comprehensive Older Adult Strategy that includes an independent advocate similar to other jurisdictions, such as British Columbia to ensure a strong and independent voice for older adults.