NDP commits to overhauling home care in Ontario

NDP commits to overhauling home care in Ontario

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Ontario’s New Democratic Party said it would invest a minimum of $1 billion into a home care system if it were to form the government next year.

The promised investment is intended to overhaul the province’s home care system with the goal of deprivatization. The NDP’s home care and long-term care platform, Aging Ontarians Deserve the Best, was announced by NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Kingston and the Islands MPP Ian Arthur on Tuesday. It details the party’s plan to make the system public and not-for-profit, rather than relying on a framework made up of for-profit services.

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“(The NDP) has been saying for a long time now that we need to take the profit out of senior care, whether it’s long-term care or home care,” Arthur said in an interview. “Large corporations earning money off of the health and well-being of our loved ones is not something that we support.”

The NDP also pledged to establish provincial standards for home care and create “culturally appropriate resources and training” so seniors can receive care from workers who understand their language and culture.

Arthur told the Whig-Standard that minimum standards of home care and deprivatization would help to protect the elderly and personal support workers alike.

“PSWs want to deliver the best care that they possibly can, but they need to be fairly compensated for the work they do,” Arthur said.

“Frankly, how we treat PSWs is in Ontario is awful. … We need a minimum standard of care both for the PSWs and for the people receiving the care home so they get an adequate amount of time and attention so that living at home isn’t a compromise.”

According to Ontario’s auditor general, those who require home care often receive less than they require and fewer hours of care than they are entitled to. Additionally, location within the province can determine the quality of care a person receives.

In Kingston, Arthur said his office receives many calls and emails from constituents struggling to access home care. He said that one local family living on Wolfe Island was denied home care because the provider could not make it to the island.

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“The recommendation that they were given was that they send their loved one into long-term care, which was not an appropriate solution for that family at that time,” Arthur said.

The Ontario Community Support Association reported in 2019 that 18,000 people living in long-term care could have been accommodated at home with better home care.

The Ontario Hospital Association reported 750,000 patient days when someone was stuck in a hospital bed while waiting for home or long-term care.

Arthur said Ontario’s current system for long-term and home care is a “crisis” created by the previous two provincial governments.

“It was built. It was not accidental,” he said.

“The deaths in long-term care during COVID-19 have exemplified the problems, but those cracks were already there. And they’re going to continue after (the pandemic). We haven’t seen the level of investment that we need to actually fix the problems that are there,” Arthur said.

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