Submitted by Bonnie Roe, on behalf of Haliburton-CKL Long-Term Care Coalition
Haliburton-CKL LTC Coalition created a rigorous election campaign to bring awareness to voters about marking their ballot with an X for a candidate who would commit to taking action and set timelines, to improve our broken long-term care system. We created car window cards and lawn signs that were placed near all LTC homes in Haliburton-CKL and throughout our communities. Our message was: Your Vote Counts! Long-Term Care Action Now! LTC residents deserve better!
Our Coalition sent a letter to each electoral candidate asking them to share where they and their party stood on committing to the necessary changes to improve our broken LTC system. (please go to ltcneedsyou.ca or our fb page for our questions and their answers). Replies were received from most of the Candidates. We were disappointed to not receive responses from incumbent Conservative MP, Jamie Schmale and Alison Davidson, People’s Party. Our goal was to create a Report Card of voters’ grades. Unfortunately, our submission was too lengthy for most papers to print or edit for a busy election issue.
Another election is over and we ask readers, is it fair to say, nothing much has changed? Federally we have a Liberal minority government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a Conservative MP, Jamie Schmale. Let’s take a glimpse into each party’s promises for changes to LTC, if elected. Do you feel they reflected what was needed to bring the necessary changes to the LTC crisis in our election?
Conservative Party Platform-Taken from MP Jamie Schmale’s website.
“We will fix long-term care by: inviting the provinces to work with us to develop a set of best practices for Long-Term Care Homes. Like the National Building Code, this will provide guidance for provinces without intruding on their jurisdiction; working with all provincial governments who want to commit to this important project and encourage all provinces to incorporate the results into provincial law; devoting $3 billion of infrastructure funding over the next three years to renovate Long-Term Care Homes across Canada; and encouraging partnerships with private non-profits that have historically provided a significant amount of Long-Term Care. Canada’s Conservatives will ensure that pensioners have priority over corporate elites in bankruptcy or restructuring. Canadian workers should be able to rely on their pensions. But all too often we have seen workers forced to take big cuts to their pension when the company they worked for goes bankrupt. This needs to change. It’s time for the government to stand up for workers and secure pensions. We will also better secure workers’ pensions by: Preventing executives from paying themselves bonuses while managing a company going through restructuring if the pension plan is not fully funded. No longer forcing underfunded pension plans to be converted to annuities, which locks in losses, and means that workers receive less money and requiring companies to be more transparent by clearly reporting the funding status of their pension plans.”
The Federal Conservative Party platform does not reflect the changes that our Coalition believes are needed to ‘overhaul the LTC system’. Like the Liberals, timeframes are over 3-5 years, too vague and with no timelines. Promises run the scope of helpful recommendations but no long term solutions: Seniors Care Tax Credit, $200 monthly per household to any Canadian living with and caring for a parent over 70; toughening the penalties for elder abuse; providing 3 billion dollars to renovate LTC homes over three years and prioritizing immigration requests for support workers to work in LTC homes.
Our Haliburton-CKL Long-Term Care Coalition will continue to meet with MP, Jamie Schmale to ask him to stand behind our Coalition’s goals and ask him to please take our requests for change to the LTC system to Ottawa, on behalf of our Coalition and his constituents.
The Federal Liberal Platform Promises
Looking back over four years we have had a Liberal Prime Minister repeatedly state that he believed in national standards for LTC but nothing concrete was achieved. During this campaign, he promised to put 9 billion dollars into Long-Term Care over five years. The problem is, if you do the math there are ten provinces plus three territories to share this over five years. It is peanuts for the overhaul to the system that is needed to be effective.
The Globe and Mail on August the 19, 2021 says better pay for personal support workers and a stronger contingent of critical staff at long-term care facilities are among a new list of commitments the Liberals have promised to fulfill. The funding would go to provincially controlled areas such as setting a minimum wage of $25 an hour for personal support workers. It also dedicates $500 million to training as many as 50,000 new workers in that field. Mr. Trudeau said his party would “direct $3 billion to increasing the availability of long-term care beds.” The Liberals also said they would improve infection prevention and control measures. They reaffirmed their promise to set national standards – a pledge first announced in the 2020 Throne Speech but not yet implemented – and said this would be done through a new Safe Long-Term Care Act.
In a Canada Press article by Laura Osman, dated September 23, 2021, she writes that experts warn the Liberals’ promise to legislate safety in long-term care will have to come with more money if new national care standards are going to fix what’s broken in the system. In the 2020 throne speech, the government promised to work with provinces and territories to set new, national standards for long-term care — a process that was launched through the Health Standards Organization and the Canadian Standards Association in March 2021. In fact, national HSO standards for long-term care already exist and are used as the accreditation criteria for about 58 per cent of all homes in Canada, according to Dr. Samir Sinha, chair of one of the technical committees working to rewrite those standards. He said in Quebec, all homes must adhere to the existing national standards as a condition of their accreditation. Sinha said the first draft of the new standards, which are set to be publicly released at the end of the year, aim to promote a better working environment for staff and ensure high-quality care for residents.
But what happens to change the status quo after the new standards are released is up to the government and the people. Long-term care sits squarely in provincial jurisdiction, with currently little to no federal oversight. “It’s one thing to legislate things. It’s another thing to make sure that you can actually accomplish them.”
An August 2021 report by the parliamentary budget office suggests, it would take an extra $8.5 billion each year to meet the current demand for long-term care and improve wages and benefits for workers. That cost is expected to grow by about 4.1 per cent per year because of an aging population.
“The cost of not doing enough will be higher than what it will cost to get it right,” Sinha said. “Can we afford this? I would actually say, “Can we afford not to do the right thing?’’
We leave the preceding question with the constituents of HKLB, families of residents in LTC homes, advocates and our elected officials. The time is NOW!
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