Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath, MPP Doly Begum and Ontario’s New Democrats have put forward a plan that would end wait times for long-term care and home care, and even longer wait times for culturally responsive care. That means seniors in Scarborough will be able to live at home longer, and if they do become ready for care, they’ll be able to find a small, family-like home steeped in their language, food and culture.
Building 50,000 new long-term care spaces is one of several significant commitments contained in Aging Ontarians Deserve the Best, the NDP’s plan to overhaul long-term care and home care. The plan commits to building new spaces in small, modern, family-like homes, all fully public and not-for-profit.
“Everyone wants to stay in their home for as long as possible, and we can help our parents and grandparents live at home as they age by fixing home care. And if our loved ones do need long-term care, it should feel like home,” said Horwath. “By shifting to a model with small, modern communities, we can provide more culturally-responsive homes – with staff and residents that share your parents’ language, foods and culture. It’s scary enough to send a loved one into long-term care without having to worry about mom and dad not feeling comfortable there.”
They do an incredible job – and more families should have access to culturally responsive homes and programming like this, said Horwath.
On Wednesday, Horwath was in Scarborough virtually with local NDP MPP Doly Begum to share how the NDP’s plan would do just that, while also improving care and quality of life for residents by hiring thousands more personal support workers, and making their jobs better paid and full-time, along with guaranteeing better training.
“For too long, Liberal and Conservative governments have let greedy corporations make lots of money at the expense of seniors and their families,” said Horwath. “For-profit companies have one-size-fits-all care, delivered in gloomy, institution-like facilities with underpaid, part-time staff. They take away our loved ones’ quality of life, their culture, and – too often – their safety and their health, too.
“Your parents and grandparents deserve to be comfortable at home as they age. We can make that happen, together.”
Currently the Ontario government directly budgets $4.6 billion for long-term care and another $3.2 billion for home care. An estimated $645 million is spent in community supports and it is estimated another $375 million is spent caring for seniors in hospital beds while they wait for home care or long-term care. That is a total of $9 billion dollars.
The NDP plan includes record investment into better care and better living. The total cost of the plan is $750 million per year in each of eight years for one-time capital investments; plus $3 billion in annual operations costs, which represents a 30 per cent increase to the $9 billion currently spent annually for home and long-term care, which will be phased in with annual increases over six years.
• The NDP plan includes:
1. Overhauling home care to help people live at home longer
Ending the for-profit, understaffed patchwork of home care companies that make seniors wait and fail to address the inequities. This includes bringing the system into the public and non-profit sectors over eight years, as well as new provincial standards for home care services, and culturally-appropriate resources, training and job-matching
2. Making all long-term care public and not-for-profit
Ending greedy profit-making at the expense of quality of care. Horwath is committing to phase out for-profit operators within eight years, and increasing financial reporting, transparency and accountability during the transition period.
3. Building small, modern, family-like homes
The gloom of being warehoused in institution-like facilities is over. An NDP government will immediately start building small nursing homes that actually feel like home. Based on best practices from around the world, the NDP will build smaller living spaces shared by groups of six to 10 people. In a small town, it could look like a typical family home. In bigger cities, it could look more like a neighbourhood of villas.
4. Staffing up with full-time, well-paid, well-trained caregivers
Instead of the revolving door of staff run off their feet, the NDP will give personal support workers a permanent wage boost of $5 an hour over their pre-pandemic wages. The NDP will mandate enough staff to guarantee at least 4.1 hours of hands-on care per resident per day, establish a dedicated fund for training personal support workers, and more.
5. Making family caregivers partners
The NDP will treat loved ones like more than just visitors, including creating a provincial Caregiver Benefit Program and ensuring every home has an active family and resident council.
6. Creating culturally responsive, inclusive and affirming care
The NDP will make sure seniors feel at home, surrounded by their language and culture.
7. Clearing the wait list
Clearing the 38,000-person wait list that can mean years waiting for a bed, and even longer for a culturally appropriate home. The NDP will create up to 50,000 spaces and eliminate the wait list within eight years.
8. Guaranteeing new and stronger protections
Comprehensive inspections, a Seniors’ Advocate, and more will ensure care never goes downhill again.