Friday February 5, 2021 | NATIONAL
by Mary P Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends
Today the federal NDP announced a plan for what they say will “take profits out of long-term care” as well as “implement a Care Guarantee for loved ones”.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was joined by Dr Amina Jabbar, MD in Geriatric Medicine, Dr Nima Machout, epidemiologist and Maureen McDermott who mother is resident at a for-profit long-term care facility.
It has been clear from data during the COVID pandemic across Canada, that not only have most of the deaths from the infection occurred in long-term care homes, but a subset of that shows most of the long-term care deaths happening for residents in for-profit care facilities.
In BC, where wages were topped up by the provincial government under a ‘single site plan’ so that workers earning low wages did not have to take hours at more than one facility in order to make ends meet.
Speaking via Zoom from Ottawa, Singh says the federal government has failed in long-term care, even before the pandemic. “Corporations have put corporate greed ahead of care of our seniors,” he said. The timeline of system demise started under the Harper Conservative government and has continued under the Trudeau Liberal government, said Singh.
“We can invest in seniors, long-term care and home care,” he articulated. This would require long-term care being part of the Canada Health Act.
Here on south Vancouver Island, Randall Garrison, MP (Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke) says that it’s crucial to “take decisive measures” to protect seniors amidst the “grave health concerns” of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And Laurel Collins, MP (Victoria) says that government should be “on the side of seniors, their families and frontline health-care workers, not wealthy investors”, as released in a statement today.
NDP plan for transition of long-term care:
The NDP have now issued a document called ‘A Care Guarantee for our loved ones‘ in which a commitment of $5 billion is proposed for addressing needs in long-term care, a fund to which provinces would have to opt-in.
The NDP plan would eliminate the for-profit ownership of homes and stop the contracting-out of facility services. As a first step, the plan would include immediately bringing Revera (for-profit long-term care that is owned by a federal agency) under public ownership.
A national task force would be charged with creating a plan to transition all for-profit care to not-for-profit hands by 2030.
The plan would require working with the provinces and territories to place a moratorium on the licensing of any new for-profit care facilities and make sure that measures are in place to keep all existing beds open during the transition.
Society’s approach to long-term care:
For many Canadians it took the visually jarring images of military going into long-term care to support ailing elders to be the wake up call about how the long-term care system was already failing before COVID hit.
During the Zoom call, McDermott called the current impact on seniors as ‘senicide‘. She said that fines and revoking of licences should be part of management of the system.
“It’s unfortunate that COVID is what it took to force changes in long-term care,” said Dr Nima Machout, epidemiologist.
NDP page about their plan for long-term care (February 5, 2021)
Non-profit care home in Sooke has no COVID cases (January 13, 2021)