Reunification wait-list should be part of broad inquiry into long-term care

Jan 19, 2018 @ 13:03

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says that the long wait-list for couples waiting to be reunited in Ontario’s long-term care system should be part of a broad public inquiry into the problems in Ontario’s long-term care system – a public inquiry Horwath has vowed to launch.


On Friday, Horwath sat down with Sudbury resident Linda Adler, along with MPP France Gélinas and NDP candidate for the riding of Sudbury Jamie West, to hear about Adler’s elderly in-laws. Hildegard and Gottfried Adler have been separated for five months since Gottfried entered long-term care last summer, and Hildegard – who also needs to be admitted to long-term care – became stuck on a waiting list.  The couple has been married for 67 years.


“To imagine these two missing each other, day in and day out, is just heartbreaking,” said Horwath. “The reason Hildegard and Gottfried aren’t together right now is because Ontario’s long-term care system isn’t working the way it should. There are over 32,000 people on the wait list, and no sign of relief in sight for those folks, mostly seniors, and their families.


“Kathleen Wynne and her Liberal government are letting families down in Sudbury and across the province. For Hildegard and Gottfried, for the people in long-term care and for the many Ontarians who will need long-term care in the coming years, we can do so much better.”


Of the 32,000 people on the long-term care list, 1,133 are waiting in the Sudbury-Manitoulin area. That’s compared to just 1,631 long-term care spaces in the region.


Since June, Horwath has been calling for a full public inquiry into the state of seniors long-term care, a find-and-fix mission which she said can be undertaken as a second phase of the public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Elizabeth Wettlaufer’s murders.


“We need to look at the Wettlaufer murders, absolutely – those families deserve answers,” said NDP candidate Jamie West. “But we need a second phase of the inquiry to address all the other issues and risks in long-term care. We should be looking at things like staffing levels and bed shortages, lack of attention to patients and residents, unsound hygiene practices and even violence in care homes. The system is so strained, it’s letting people down at every stage – and if we stop sweeping problems under the rug, we can start making changes.”


“Gottfried gets to see Hildegard once a week for about an hour,” said MPP Gélinas. “That’s only possible because their family lives nearby and is able to take Gottfried to see his wife. That’s not the kind of compassionate care I want for families in our community. Hildegard is now number 3 on the wait list. We want the Minister of Health to keep his word, make couple reunification a priority and assure the family that Hildegard will not be bumped down the wait list anymore. That’s what this couple needs – what Ontarians need is a full find-and-fix public inquiry. It’s the right thing to do because our parents and grandparents deserve so much better.”

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