Statement from the Ontario Health Coalition – Ford government’s response to long-term care is a travesty: ‘new’ LTC bill due soon

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TORONTO, 06 Dec. 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – The so-called ‘new’ long-term care law introduced by the Ford government is scheduled for third and final reading in the Legislature today and will likely be passed by the Conservative majority . today or tomorrow. The bill, which is really just a series of amendments to the current Long-Term Care Homes Act (2007), was rushed through ahead of the provincial election in order to pretend to do something, without infringing on the vital interests of the for-profit long-term care industry, and without committing the funds and political will to the changes that are really needed.

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According to Public Health Ontario, in the twenty-one months since the start of the pandemic, we lost 4,037 human beings who were residents and employees in our long-term coaches . They were loved. Their lives matter. Many more have suffered unspeakably from lack of food, water and basic medical care, lack of human contact, isolation and depression. Many ultimately did not survive these conditions. The Canadian Armed Forces Described in Visceral Terms the quality of life and unreasonable care in the long-term care homes to which they were sent to provide emergency assistance .

Public hearings on Bill 37, the “new” long-term care law, were announced after noon on Friday, November 19, and the deadline for seeking standing was Monday afternoon. The successful candidates were informed on Tuesday of the first day of the public hearings which began on Wednesday morning. Families, who lost loved ones to utter misery, without even basic care, had less than a day to prepare for the presentations. Over 80 organizations and families applied for the status and only 36 were accepted. There is no reason why the government, if it was serious about changing long term care, would exclude so many people who could have contributed to the development of better legislation. Persons authorized to testify had only 7 minutes to be heard by the Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly, which held the hearings. During the hearings, instead of using their time to question witnesses and listen to their answers, several Conservative MPs purposely used the time allotted for questions by discussing throughout the period so as not to give up the chance. witnesses to say anything more that could be critical or damaging. It was one of the most cynical uses of open court time we have ever witnessed.

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In the end, the Conservative majority rejected every amendment proposed by the official opposition.

This legislative process is in keeping with how important old health care laws were passed by the Ford government, but it is unprecedented in the history of our province. In our experience, since and including the years of the Harris government in the 1990s, no government has treated public hearings with such cavalier contempt and no one has rejected every amendment from opposition parties on every item. major health care legislation. We note for the public record that this process is undemocratic, callous and unacceptable.

In the new long-term care bill, there are a lot of things that may seem good on the surface, but make little sense in practice:

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  • The changes to the Residents Bill of Rights may sound good, but they have never been binding in reality. We have recommended a tribunal, such as that of landlords and tenants, to make it possible to apply the Bill of Rights. The Ford government did not adopt this recommendation.
  • Despite all the hype, there is no change to annual inspections in the bill. Note: this government canceled the in-depth annual surprise inspections of our long-term care homes in 2018 after they took office. Now their plan is to gradually reintroduce the new inspections, but slowly, over 2 years. The deep and comprehensive surprise annual inspections that have been a key part of every public interest group’s advocacy on long-term care for more than two decades are in fact not included in this new bill and can therefore be rescinded at any time. any time. Note: The for-profit industry has long lobbied against annual surprise inspections of all homes.
  • Despite the draft title of the bill, there is no actual construction plan for new long-term care homes in the bill.
  • There is a target for a minimum standard of care in the bill, but it does not make sense. The minimum standard of care is not a minimum – it is an average, it is not a requirement – it is a target, it is not applicable because it is an average in all outbreaks of LTC and cannot be applied to any outbreaks, and it is a target in 4 years which can be changed by the Cabinet at any time according to the legislation.
  • There are no changes to the basic staffing requirements, no improvements, including nothing for medical leadership. Without personnel, there is no care. Many have died preventably during the pandemic and previously from lack of basic care.
  • There is hardly any substance in the IPAC section and no requirement for better PPE.

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Or U.S to do see that the change lies in new provisions allowing the Ford government to promote for-profit long-term care and allocate thousands of beds to for-profit chains, including the worst performance responsible for the worst mass loss of our history of long-term care. For-profit long-term care homes had death rate five times higher than in public housing and double that of associations in the pandemic. For decades, repeated studies have found that for-profit businesses are worse for a whole range of outcomes for their residents. Under the law as currently drafted, the allocation of the majority of new long-term care homes to for-profit facilities would not be permitted, and the ministry is expressly prohibited from issuing new licenses. to operators with a bad track record. The provisions protecting the public from these things have been changed in the new bill, and that is the reason for this “new” legislation, we believe. It is of unspeakable immorality.

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Ontario’s three previous Conservative premiers have all joined the boards of a for-profit long-term care chain after leaving office. Mike Harris continued chair the Board of Directors of Chartwell . Ernie Eves has joined the board of directors of CPL REIT one month after leaving office as Minister of Finance , then returned to the post of Prime Minister after the departure of Mike Harris. (CPL REIT eventually became Revera.) Bill Davis chaired Revera’s board after leaving office. The current director of communications for the Minister of Health was previously a for-profit LTC lobbyist . The former chief of staff of the Ford government’s attorney general lobbied for a for-profit LTC chain Last summer around the same time the Ford government decided to pass legislation, introduced by the attorney general, to protect the industry from liability for negligence in the pandemic. The list of connections goes on and on. In order to achieve improvements in long term care that are truly in the public interest, we need to end the closed door between government and for profit industry.

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Ontario’s long-term care record during the pandemic is one of the worst in the world. The suffering and death we have witnessed is on a scale that requires a momentous, definitive response, which sets aside petty greed and partisanship for compassion and humanity. This new legislation would not stop the same kind of suffering we are now seeing in long-term care, which we saw during the pandemic and which we documented and reported for many years before the pandemic.

This bill is a tragic missed opportunity and even worse. Our province could have really moved forward and improved long term care. This bill does not do that. Worse yet, it is preparing our province for another generation of for-profit long-term care. Meanwhile, as many families of the deceased mark the anniversaries of their loss, and now that the holiday season approaches for many, this loss is felt even more harshly. They had every right to believe that their loved ones would be cared for with compassion and that they would be safe. They saw no justice, no accountability, no change. They were not heard. It’s a parody.

For more information: Natalie Mehra, Executive Director (416) 230-6402 (cell).

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