France Gelinas, Ontario NDP health critic and Nickel Belt MPP, is planning to present a petition in the legislature this week urging the provincial government to prioritize long-term care improvements in the next budget.
Almost 500 signatures are from residents and staff at the Elizabeth Centre — a long-term care home in Greater Sudbury, Ont.
Gelinas met with them last Friday to hear their stories.
"The ones who have been there for some time, they all say the same thing," Gelinas said.
"'The staff used to have more time with me. Now I feel rushed all the time.'"
Corinne Mattinen, 56, has called the Elizabeth Centre home for the past 15 years.
"We just need help," Mattinen said. "That's all I can say."
'Need a home when they get old'
As Mattinen sees it, more money is needed for personal support workers and nurses so they can spend more time with residents.
Mattinen also wants to see more long-term care facilities open.
"One of these days the PSWs [personal support workers] ... are going to be old too," Mattinen said.
"They need a home when they get old."
Approximately 20,000 people in the province were on wait lists for long-term care services last year, according to the Ontario Long-Term Care Association.
"No one should end their life in pain or possible neglect," said Astrid Saari, whose 85-year-old mom lives at the Elizabeth Centre
Saari's mom has a private room, which costs $2,500 per month.
'We just don't think about that early enough'
Saari said she wants the province to increase staffing and provide stable funding. She considers quality long-term care as a debt owed to the older generation.
"They were the pillars of our society maybe 20 years ago," Saari said.
"They deserve better care. They deserve as much as they need."
Saari also wants people to start planning long-term care earlier.
"We just don't think about that," Saari said.
"We come to it when there's a crisis. Our loved one is in hospital and decisions have to be made."