KENORA — As part of Andrea Horwath’s overhaul of home care and long-term care, she’ll bring in a model of small, modern, family-like homes — which means a better quality of life closer to home for seniors in smaller centres like Kenora.
The commitment is part of Horwath’s comprehensive plan to make all long-term care and home care public and not-for-profit within eight years. The Official Opposition New Democrat Leader is virtually visiting the Kenora region Tuesday, holding video meetings with area health care leaders and frontline health care workers.
“We have to take action now to make sure people are safe in nursing homes and during home-care visits throughout the second wave. Then we have to overhaul the system to make sure seniors care is never again dangerous for parents and grandparents,” said Horwath. “Part of that overhaul is ending the gloom of living in institution-like facilities that will never feel like home, and building small, comfortable places that really give our parents and grandparents more quality of life, instead of taking it away.”
Under the new model, residents will live in communities of six to 10, sharing spaces like dining and living rooms. In small communities, it could look like a regular home in a neighbourhood, and in big urban centres it could look more like a small community of villas.
Horwath has committed to building 50,000 spaces between 2022 and 2030 under this new model. In small towns and rural areas, it will mean a space is available close to home — ending the unacceptable practice of seniors being matched with a long-term care bed far outside their own community.
Horwath’s overhaul comes after 30 years of Liberal and Conservative governments privatizing, underfunding and under-regulating long-term care, paying for-profit corporations to construct big, warehouse-like facilities where they cut corners to care in order to pocket more profit.
“We can have a system where every last dollar goes into better care, and better quality of life for our loved ones,” said Horwath. “We can build small, community-based homes so that you’ll be able to walk to your mom’s new home, rather than drive an hour to visit her facility.
“Your parents deserve to be better off, no matter how much money is in their retirement fund, and you deserve to have the peace of mind that comes with that.”
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.