By Len Gillis
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Ontario premier Doug Ford has acted on one of the key recommendations made by the Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission — that the province will mandate having four hours of daily care per patient in long-term care homes.
Aside from being a recommendation by the commission, the idea was initially tabled in the Ontario legislature in 2016 by Nickel Belt MPP and Ontario NDP Health Critic France Gélinas as an amendment to the Ontario Long-Term Care Homes Act (2007).
It was just last week that second reading of Bill 13, the Time to Care Act amendment was approved in the Ontario legislature with 80 “yes” votes and zero “no” votes. Gélinas said it was an important step forward.
“Residents, family members, caregivers and staff in LTCs have been calling for a minimum standard of care since the PC Government eliminated it in 2003,” Gélinas said.
“Over 100,000 Ontarians have signed petitions in support of a daily minimum standard of care; petitions collected by family councils, church groups and PSWs, many of them from Nickel Belt. It is far past time residents received the care they need.”
On Monday, the premier made the recommendation official, and said funding for the new initiative will be part of the new budget that will be introduced later this week to provide the millions of dollars needed to hire and train new workers acros s the province.
“COVID-19 has impacted every area of our lives,” said Ford. “This virus has shone a light, has shone a spotlight on our broken long-term care system.”
Ford said his government inherited a system that suffered deeply from decades of underinvestment and neglect by the Liberals. He said he promised to fix the broken system and to give Ontario residents the care and dignity they deserve.
“We didn’t create this mess, but I can tell you we’re going to fix it,” said Ford.
He said he appointed the COVID-19 long-term care commission in July. The commission delivered several interim recommendations last week.
“We are wasting no time in starting to act on one of those key recommendations immediately,” said Ford.
“In the upcoming 2020 Ontario budget we will be increasing average daily direct care in our homes to four hours a day.
“To our residents and to their families and caregivers, four hours a day will make a world of difference.
“Across the sector that means tens of thousands of additional hours of care for our residents. This is the gold standard in the long-term care sector and we won’t settle for anything less. This is a monumental step forward.”
Ford said it will mean hiring “thousands and thousands” of new support staff.
“We know such an important change will take time to recruit and train the necessary staff but we are starting that work in earnest right now. It is long overdue, but today we are making it right,” he said.