TORONTO — Starting in 2022, Andrea Horwath will create 50,000 new long-term care spaces, ending the wait for home care and long-term care, and within eight years will make the entire system public and not-for-profit.
On Friday, Horwath, Leader of the Official Opposition New Democrats, announced her plan for an overhaul of home care and long-term care in a new model built on small, family-like homes rather than institution-like facilities.
“The COVID-19 pandemic revealed a disaster hiding behind the walls of Ontario’s long-term care homes. More than 1,870 residents have died, and thousands of families have been devastated,” said Horwath. “We have to take action now to make sure people are safe in nursing homes and during home-care visits throughout the second wave. And we have to overhaul the system to make sure this nightmare never happens again.”
Horwath’s plan is a comprehensive and detailed blueprint for an eight-year transition from a fragmented, privatized and poorly regulated system to well-regulated and well-staffed public and not-for-profit system.
“We’re going to help your parents live in their own home for longer. We’re going to get to work building nursing homes the right way – with small communities that feel like home. We’ve planned for better paid, better trained, full-time staff, so every resident can be guaranteed at least four hours of hands-on care each day. I’m promising to invest in care that is responsive to your parents’ culture and language, and to finally treat family caregivers as care partners, not just visitors,” said Horwath.
“And I’m promising to ban greedy corporations from the sector — so every last dollar goes into better care, and better living. Your parents deserve to be better off. No matter how much money is in their retirement fund.”
Conservative and Liberal governments have spent 30 years letting for-profit corporations take over. The result is care homes so short-staffed that residents are regularly neglected, and can get sick from dehydration and malnourishment while a revolving door of part-time and temp workers are run off their feet.
“These for-profit corporations warehouse seniors in institution-like facilities. They cut corners when it comes to staffing and care, in order to pocket bigger profits. And they are barely regulated or inspected. All while governments, including the Doug Ford government, try to save a buck by cutting funding, cutting inspections, and blocking public, judicial inquiries. Every year, the conditions get worse and worse,” said Horwath.
“Our plan includes record investments, dedicated to better care and better living for our parents and grandparents, and more peace of mind for their families.”
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, and make sure 2SLGBTQIA+ seniors can always live with Pride. This includes partnering with communities, Indigenous nations and 2SLGBTQIA+ communities to fund community homes, and more.
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.