Teresa Armstrong, the Ontario NDP’s Long-Term Care critic, released the following statement in response to a government announcement of future long-term care beds being allocated to a Humber River Hospital long-term care facility:
“Long-term care is badly understaffed, under-regulated, and the government no longer inspects facilities regularly. As a result, thousands of seniors are neglected, and their emotional well-being and health and safety are at risk. The inhumanity has been getting worse for years and years, while government after government glosses over the problem by announcing new beds they never even build.
The first thing that needs to be done right now is to address the things we know are hurting seniors in care. We need to hire thousands of PSWs, make their jobs full time, and pay them better. We need to have a minimum standard staffing level of four hours of hands-on care per day, per resident. We need regular, comprehensive inspections.
Then, we need a public inquiry and not a premier’s commission. Families deserve the kind of answers and accountability and permanent change only a public inquiry can offer.
The Liberal government announced thousands of long-term care beds, but between 2011 and 2018 they built just 611 beds. Premier Doug Ford has announced thousands of long-term care beds. In his first two years, he’s built just 34 beds. We need to fundamentally change long-term care, not just make announcements about more beds in a broken system.”
Following the death of more than 1,845 seniors in long-term care homes of COVID-19, the Ford government has refused to allow a public inquiry, selecting an internal premier’s commission, instead. Concerns the NDP has about the terms of reference for that commission include:
- The scope limits the commission to only COVID-19-related concerns, and not the decade of problems that came before it
- The commission doesn’t have a mandate to examine the role of profit-making corporations running nursing facilities
- Ford is allowing some commission meetings and hearings to be private, behind closed doors
- Ford is giving confidentiality rights to documents, so that the government can keep some documents concealed
- Ford’s commission does not give standing to the families and loved ones of seniors that died. The commissioner will pick and choose who to hear from
- It’s non-binding, and Ford has refused to commit to implementing any of its recommendations
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