Open Letter to Premier Ford

Jul 3, 2020 | CV19, Health, long-term care

RE: Long-Term Care Commission

As part of the new mandate of the 'announced' Commission on Long-Term Care, the COA strongly implores the Ontario government not to ignore changes that could be implemented quickly to improve the lives of those now or soon to be living in LTC homes.

Dear Premier Doug Ford,

The Council on Aging (COA) of Ottawa has been genuinely concerned, as have so many other organizations, about the state of long-term care (LTC) in this province.  The COA outlined the major concerns with the LTC sector in the Long-Term Care in Ottawa: We Need Change Now! position paper (February 2020) and our concerns on the management of COVID-19 in LTC homes in A Statement of Concerns (May 2020). With your announcement of a Commission on long-term care and without information of its precise mandate, the COA passed the following motion pertaining to the work of this Commission:

  1. The COA continues to push the Ontario government to make immediate improvements in the LTC sector in the four areas noted below and not wait until all reviews and commissions have reported to make needed changes.
    • Passing of a Time to Care Act (or equivalent that legislates minimum care standards) with at least four hours minimum care/resident/day and adjusted when the Long-Term Care Staffing Advisory Group’s review results are submitted at the end of July.  More care staff is urgently needed in LTC.
    • Permanent increase in wages and benefits for LTC workers with active training and recruitment plans in place for PSW staff and more permanent staff in LTC.
    • Infection control practices and adequate PPE in place in all LTC homes for all workers and visitors and continual testing and contact tracing for COVID-19 (and other) outbreaks.
    • A plan for bringing back family caregivers into LTC as soon as possible.
  2. The COA supports a mandate for an Independent Commission (under the Public Inquiries Act) that goes beyond pandemic readiness and responses, and that examines and recommends ways to transform and develop seniors’ care in all environments (home, community, supportive housing, retirement homes, and LTC homes) in order to provide Ontario seniors with sustainable and quality seniors’ care in the future.
  3. The COA endorses a review of prospective demographic, health, and other changes over the medium and longer-term, in order to better assess the inevitable, growing pressures on the LTC system over time and to help ensure that short-term improvements recognize and are compatible with those future needs as well.
  4. The COA strongly supports significant additional and sustained funding to the LTC sector now and to implement the Commission’s recommendations.

An independent Commission that examines and makes recommendations for the transformation and improvement of seniors’ care would guide much-needed development and investment. While the recent pandemic revealed existing weaknesses in Ontario LTC homes, a Commission that only concentrates on pandemic responses will sadly miss an important opportunity to shape seniors’ care in this province. Other provinces and other countries have done so much better than Ontario and we ought to take the time to use the resources of an expensive and expert Commission to make sure that Ontario seniors are well served now and in the future.

While such a Commission will take years to make its recommendations, the Council on Aging strongly implores your government not to ignore changes that could be implemented quickly to improve the lives of those now or soon to be living in LTC homes.  Our four priority areas are noted above. Ontario seniors and their families in LTC deserve immediate
improvements in the quality of their lives now.

Your government cannot continue to claim that you did not know the situation inside these homes.

Premier Ford, please take the opportunity to make a meaningful change now.  Your lasting legacy to this province could be quality seniors care in Ontario.  We need change now!  We count on your leadership and commitment to make this change.

Sincerely,

Nicole Robert

President, Board of Directors

cc.

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