Liberals promise to end for-profit long-term care in Ontario

Calling warehousing the elderly in long-term care homes ‘one of the biggest mistakes’ of the last century, Ontario Liberals pledge to make a multi-billion dollar change to care elderly people in their own homes for as long as possible, the Star has learned.

The $2 billion ‘home care first’ plan would provide more support for seniors who could move to smaller, more family-friendly facilities when they need higher levels of care, the Liberal leader Steven Del Duca during an interview.

To that end, a Liberal government would build 30,000 new places for the elderly and upgrade 28,000 existing beds to create hundreds of small nursing homes. All for-profit long-term care facilities would be bought out by 2028 and transferred to not-for-profit operators following rising COVID-19-related death rates at for-profit centers.

“I am determined to revolutionize the way we treat our seniors in this province,” Del Duca told the Star as he prepares for the June 2 provincial election. “This is a once-in-a-generation transformational investment.”

Buying the for-profit homes — which make up more than half of Ontario’s 626 long-term care facilities — would cost $2 billion a year through 2028, according to party estimates. For-profit nursing home licenses would not be renewed as they expire after 2023.

There would also be 15,000 additional assisted living facilities for the elderly, an extended tax credit for the elderly to renovate their homes to make them safer and more frequent payments of money to carers from credits. tax for existing carers, which would be made taxable. free.

Del Duca took aim at a series of recent announcements by Premier Doug Ford’s government for new nursing homes, some of them fast-tracked, that will provide thousands of extra beds to ease waiting lists and prepare for growing numbers of elderly people.

“It perpetuates a system that puts our parents and grandparents at risk,” the Liberal leader said. “We have to do this in a completely different way.”

According to his plan, an additional 400,000 older people would receive home care within four years, including help with showers, cooking and taking medication.

The average number of hands-on daily care hours for nursing home residents would increase to four “as soon as possible”, which Ford did not promise until 2025 due to difficulties in training thousands of nurses and nurses. additional personal support workers to do the work.

Del Duca acknowledged that the new vision for aged care is “ambitious” and comes amid a shortage of home care and nursing home workers which he hopes to alleviate with better pay. Levels of care in care homes now average just under three hours per resident per day for things like bathing, feeding, grooming and dressing.

The difference with Ford’s plan for long-term care means voters face a “tough choice,” he said.

But the Liberal proposal for nursing homes with smaller, more family-friendly environments is similar to a campaign platform board first released by Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats 18 months ago to end hospital-based long-term care. She also pledged to ban for-profit corporations from long-term care and to increase home care.

New Democrats released their full platform on Monday, becoming the first party to do so before the June 2 campaign officially begins on May 4. Horwath has repeatedly criticized the previous Liberal government, of which Del Duca was a part, for having had almost 15 years in office to make major changes in long-term care.

Countries like Denmark are doing a much better job of housing and caring for frail older people who can no longer live on their own without help, said Del Duca, who cited his own aging parents as an example of why he thinks the system needs to change.

As an example of the type of smaller accommodation that could arise from Liberal policy, he said a suburban bungalow could be modified to become accommodation for “seven or eight” elderly people in a more familiar and more welcoming with a nurse and personal support workers – an improvement over what a typical retirement home can offer.

“I want where they’re going to feel like they’re at home,” Del Duca said.

Speaking on the merits, a party official said retirement homes being built by the Ford government would be completed, with design plans altered where possible to make the layouts less “institutional”.

Interest costs on for-profit housing purchases transferred to non-profit and municipal operators would be approximately $150 million per year.

In other election news involving the Liberals, veteran Thunder Bay-Superior North MP Michael Gravelle revealed on Monday that he will not be running on June 2 after a recurrence of cancer from a decade ago. .

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Melissa C. Keyes